Ensuring customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

Gwyn Worth made this Freedom of Information request to Scarborough Borough Council

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The request was successful.

Dear Scarborough Borough Council,

A council taxpayer who owes more than just the current year's liability runs the risk of incurring additional recovery costs through a further application for a liability order if payments which are intended for the current year's liability are allocated by the council's computer to the previous year's liability. This would most likely happen where a non specific payment is made and the computer software is set to automatically allocate these payments to the oldest year's debt.

Councils computer systems have the necessary flexibility to be set to allow non specific payments to be allocated to the arrears or the current year's liability.

I understand that the majority of billing authorities have their computer software set to ensure that their customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship, i.e. so non specific payments are allocated to the current year's liability.

How does Scarborough Borough Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

FOI, Scarborough Borough Council

Dear Gwyn


Email Address: [FOI #436743 email]

FOI Request Reference: FOIA5320 - Payment Settings on Council's Council
Tax System

Thank you for your written communication of 09/10/2017

Your request has been referred to the responsible officer and a response
should be made within the statutory timeframe of 20 working days from the
date of receipt.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
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Please ensure that any further communication in relation to this matter is
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Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Officer


Freedom of Information Officer

Legal and Democratic Services

Scarborough Borough Council

e:  [1][Scarborough Borough Council request email]

t: 01723 232323

f: 0870 2384159

w:  [2]www.scarborough.gov.uk




Sherri Williamson, Scarborough Borough Council

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    FOIA 5320 Gwyn Worth unnecessary recovery action costs response Oct 2017.doc

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Please find attached a response to your recent freedom of information


Thank you


Sherri Williamson

Local Taxation Manager, Local Taxation, Scarborough Borough Council

e: [1][email address] | t: 01723 232379

w: [2]www.scarborough.gov.uk


Dear Sherri Williamson,

I consider Scarborough Borough Council has provided the information I requested. The purpose of this exercise was to ascertain whether or not the principles surrounding the appropriation of payments were being adhered to.

R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953)

It was held in R v Miskin Lower Justices, that where an amount obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere.

If no instruction is given at the time of payment, then the council has a duty to allocate payment to the account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. That would be the current liability if the consequences of allocating payment to the arrears meant that the customer was subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc.

I understand by the council's response (re, they are moved routinely to avoid unnecessary costs and action) that there are measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor, and consequently the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are being complied with. This effectively means that an unmatched payment allocated to the oldest debt (having the consequences of putting the current year's liability also in arrears) would be reallocated to the current year's liability on account of the circumstances implying that this was the debtor's intention (least burdensome for the debtor). If it appears I have misunderstood anything by what I have stated I would appreciate if you would correct me.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Sherri Williamson,


Re; "If payments do not match they will initially be allocated to the oldest debt first as stipulated by central government advice on the allocation of payments"

I would like a link to the advice if possible unless it is the same as below:

(Extract from QRC4 guidance notes)

'30. Receipts should be attributed to the oldest year in which debts are outstanding, and not to the current year unless the payment is specifically for the current year. If your receipts do not relate to 2016-17 DO NOT include them in this line, but refer to the notes for lines 7 and 8.'

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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