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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

FOI, Suffolk Coastal District Council

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noreply@eastsuffolk.gov.uk, Suffolk Coastal District Council

Dear Gwyn Worth,

Thank you for your request received on 21 Oct 2017 entitled Council tax
non-specific payments and arrears. This request has been allocated a
reference number of IMT199715
The response will cover the following authority/ authorities: SCDC,WDC.

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Kind regards,

Sara Barratt

Customer Experience Officer
Customer Services
Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils
Tel: 01502 523389

Mail to: [Suffolk Coastal District Council request email]

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils are working in partnership
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noreply@eastsuffolk.gov.uk, Suffolk Coastal District Council

Reference: IMT199715

Dear Gwyn Worth

In response to your recently submitted FOI/EIR request regarding Council
tax non-specific payments and arrears, please find our reply below:

If there are arrears and the customer does not pay by the current year
instalment or any agreed arrangement the payment will normally go to the
oldest debt.

Copyright and re-use of information

Information for which the Council holds the copyright may be used for
private purposes but must not be used for commercial purposes unless you
have advised us you wish to re-use it and you have our permission to do
so.

Published datasets may be reused under the [1]Open Government Licence for
public sector information.

In certain circumstances, the Council may be required to disclose
information for which it does not hold the copyright. In these
circumstances you must respect the rights of the copyright owner and seek
the copyright owner’s permission to re-use the information.

Please refer to the Eastsuffolk [2]FOI page for more information about
reuse of information.

This concludes your request.

If you require translation of the information you have been sent, please
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We proactively publish information and encourage you to check our website
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Eastsuffolk [5]FOI page.

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Information Act, Environmental Information Regulations and Data Protection
Act can be found in the [6]Access to Information pages of our website.

Please quote the above reference number in any communication about this
request.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Barratt

Customer Experience Officer

Customer Services

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils

Tel: 01502 523389
Mail to: [Suffolk Coastal District Council request email]
Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils are working in partnership
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address
www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk
www.twitter.com/suffolkcoastal www.twitter.com/waveneydc

 

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Dear [email address],

Thank you for stating that non-specific payments are normally allocated to the oldest liability.

Would you please confirm whether or not any measures are in place to check that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt in these circumstances would have the consequences of putting the current year's liability also in arrears, and if so, in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953] 1 Q.B. 533, whether the payment would be moved in respect of the current year's account to avoid unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc.?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Suffolk Coastal District Council

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From: Gwyn Worth <[FOI #439965 email]>
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Subject: Re: FOI/EIR Request: Council tax non-specific payments and arrears:
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Dear Suffolk Coastal District Council,

Thank you for stating that non-specific payments are normally allocated to the oldest liability.

Would you please confirm whether or not any measures are in place to check that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt in these circumstances would have the consequences of putting the current year's liability also in arrears, and if so, in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953] 1 Q.B. 533, whether the payment would be moved in respect of the current year's account to avoid unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc.?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

FOI, Suffolk Coastal District Council

Dear Gwyn Worth

 

Thank you for your request received on 17.01.2018.

 

This request has been allocated a reference number of FOI25174566.

 

The response will cover the following authority/ authorities: SCDC/WDC

 

Where applicable, your request will be dealt with under the terms of the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) and/or Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOI) and will usually be answered within 20 working
days.

 

If your EIR request is particularly complex or requires the retrieval of a
large amount of information, we may extend this to 40 working days. If
this is the case, we will notify you as soon as we are aware that this is
the case.

While no charges are made for the submission of requests, the council is
entitled to apply reasonable costs for disbursements (i.e. photocopying,
postage etc). Where charges apply we will notify you before releasing the
information.  Please see our published fees and charges:
[1]http://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/yourcounci....

 

If you have any queries about this request please contact us at the email
address below.

Please quote the above reference number in any future communications.

 

Please note that for requests received on non-working days the 20 working
days will be calculated from the start of the next business day.

 

Regards

Helen

 

FOI Team
Customer Services
Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils
Tel: 01502 523389

[2]mailto:[Suffolk Coastal District Council request email]

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils are working as a partnership
and all emails received from us will use the @eastsuffolk.gov.uk email
address

[3]www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk

[4]www.twitter.com/eastsuffolk | [5]www.facebook.com/eastsuffolkcouncils

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

FOI, Suffolk Coastal District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Gwyn Worth

In response to your recently submitted FOI/EIR request, please find our
reply attached.

Copyright and re-use of information

Information for which the Council holds the copyright may be used for
private purposes but must not be used for commercial purposes unless you
have advised us you wish to re-use it and you have our permission to do
so.

Published datasets may be reused under the [1]Open Government Licence for
public sector information.

In certain circumstances, the Council may be required to disclose
information for which it does not hold the copyright. In these
circumstances you must respect the rights of the copyright owner and seek
the copyright owner’s permission to re-use the information.

Please refer to the Eastsuffolk [2]FOI page for more information about
reuse of information.

This concludes your request.

If you require translation of the information you have been sent, please
contact us.

We proactively publish information and encourage you to check our website
before making a request.

The FOI webpage contains links to some of our most [3]frequently requested
information which is already published on the website.

For FOI requests made between June 2015 and 24 November 2017 we have
a [4]searchable disclosure log. For requests made from 25 November 2017
please contact us for a copy response.

If you have any queries or are dissatisfied with the information we have
provided in response to your request, please contact us at the email
address below. Please specify in your email whether your request concerns
Suffolk Coastal, Waveney or both authorities.

Details of our Internal Review process can be found on the
Eastsuffolk [5]FOI page.

More information about how we deal with requests under the Freedom of
Information Act, Environmental Information Regulations and Data Protection
Act can be found in the [6]Access to Information pages of our website.

Please quote the above reference number in any communication about this
request.

Regards

Helen

 

Customer Services Team
Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils
Tel: 01394 383789     Tel: 01502 562111

[7]mailto:[email address]

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils are working as a partnership
and all emails received from us will use the @eastsuffolk.gov.uk email
address

[8]www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk

[9]www.twitter.com/eastsuffolk | [10]www.facebook.com/eastsuffolkcouncils

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

Thank you for clarifying your response. I consider Suffolk Coastal District 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 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's response (see *NOTE*) 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 from what I have stated I would appreciate if you would correct me.

*NOTE*: "We receive various reports relating to enforcement balances, but a report that is given priority daily is a cash posting report. The payments are checked to ensure that they have been allocated to the correct notice. If the payment does not closely match an instalment due for the current year, or an agreed arrangemeent, making it impossible to identify which notice it should be allocated to, it would result in the payment being credited to the oldest debt.

If an instalment was missed on the current year, and it appeared that the payment was meant for the current year, the payment would be transferred to the correct notice. Should this situation keep occuring on an account, the customer would be written to asking them to confirm which bill notice they intended the payment to be made against."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

FOI, Suffolk Coastal District Council

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Sara, Helen and Rachael

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Customer Services

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils (in partnership)

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Any requests made under the Freedom of Information Act or the
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