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

Gwyn Worth made this Freedom of Information request to St Edmundsbury Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear St Edmundsbury 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 St Edmundsbury Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

******************************************************************* This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this email in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses and content security threats. WARNING: Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the Council cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments. ********************************************************-W-S-

Dear St Edmundsbury Borough Council,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, St Edmundsbury Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by 17 November 2017

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

******************************************************************* This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this email in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses and content security threats. WARNING: Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the Council cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments. ********************************************************-W-S-

Dear St Edmundsbury Borough Council,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, St Edmundsbury Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by 17 November 2017.......

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

******************************************************************* This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this email in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses and content security threats. WARNING: Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the Council cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments. ********************************************************-W-S-

Dear St Edmundsbury Borough Council,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, St Edmundsbury Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by 17 November 2017..

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

******************************************************************* This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this email in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses and content security threats. WARNING: Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the Council cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments. ********************************************************-W-S-

Dear St Edmundsbury Borough Council,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, St Edmundsbury Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by 17 November 2017......

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

******************************************************************* This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this email in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses and content security threats. WARNING: Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the Council cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments. ********************************************************-W-S-

foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Dear Mr Worth

 

Thank you for your email. 

 

Please send me a copy of your original request so I can check our records
accordingly. 
We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Karen Borley

Your opinion is extremely important to us, please take the time
to [1]complete our customer satisfaction survey to help us improve our
service.

show quoted sections

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:

[14][FOI #439964 email]

 

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dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly
prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the
Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for
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Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses
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References

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2. Click to send email to Borley, Karen
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5. http://maps.westsuffolk.gov.uk/
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foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Dear Mr Worth

Thank you for your email.

Please send me a copy of your original request so I can check our records accordingly.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Karen Borley

show quoted sections

Dear foi,

"21 October 2017
Delivered

Dear St Edmundsbury 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 St Edmundsbury Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?"

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

foi, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

******************************************************************* This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this email in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses and content security threats. WARNING: Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the Council cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments. ********************************************************-W-S-

Cornish, Lyn, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

I refer to your Freedom of Information request detailed below.
 
As you may be aware, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath
District Council are working together under the banner West Suffolk to
provide shared services across the boundaries of both authorities.  This
response is sent on behalf of the West Suffolk Councils.
 
Response
 
St Edmundsbury Borough Council & Forest Heath District Council:
 
Our system is set so that unmatched payments go to the oldest debt.
Where a payment is unable to be matched we have no way of knowing which
year the payment is intended for.  If a reminder or other recovery action
is issued against the new financial year and the customer queries this and
on inspection the officer sees that there are arrears they would check
which debt the 'odd' payments were intended for. Any payments incorrectly 
allocated to old years would be transferred to the current year, the
recovery action withdrawn and if any costs have been incurred these would
be removed at this time.
 
 
 
If you are unhappy with this response you may request an internal review
of this matter via the Council’s corporate complaints procedure.
 
If after an internal review, you are still unhappy with the decision, you
have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at the following
address:
 
Information Commissioner’ Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
Tel: 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524510
 
Regards,
 
Lyn Cornish
Business Partner
Finance & Performance
 
Direct dial:  01284 757263
Email:  [1][email address]
[2]www.westsuffolk.gov.uk
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils
 
Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day
Find my nearest for information about your area
 
 
_______________________________________________________________________
[3]http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils -----Original
Message-----
From: Gwyn Worth [[4]mailto:[FOI #439964 email]]
Sent: 23 December 2017 09:55
To: foi <[5][email address]>
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - Ensuring customers are not
subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship
 
Dear foi,
 
"21 October 2017
Delivered
 
Dear St Edmundsbury 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 St Edmundsbury Council have its computer software set to deal
with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?"
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Gwyn Worth
 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Cornish,

Thank you for your response. I consider that the West Suffolk Councils have provided the information I requested, however, 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 in the majority of cases 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 implying that there are no measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor (other than relying on customer contact) that the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are not being complied with. If the laws of appropriation were being complied with, 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 from what I have stated above I would appreciate if you would correct me.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Cornish, Lyn, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

I am currently out of the office and unable to check my e-mail until Thursday 11 January 2018. If your request is urgent, please can you contact Joe White, Senior Business Partner at [email address].
If your query relates to a request for information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, Environmental Information Regulations or the Data Protection Act, please send your request to [email address] Please note that the statutory 20-day time limit for a response does not include weekends or bank holidays.
******************************************************************* This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this email in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error please contact the Sender. This footnote confirms that this email message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses and content security threats. WARNING: Although the Council has taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this email, the Council cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use of this email or attachments. ********************************************************-W-S-