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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

<Customer Services>, Wealden District Council

Our Ref: 6275FOI/EIR
ASK FOR: Wealden Information Governance

Dear Mr Worth

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT / ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS REQUEST
- 6275FOI/EIR : ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I am writing to acknowledge your request for information made under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 / Environmental Information Regulations
2004 received on 23/10/2017 logged under our reference number 6275FOI/EIR
and passed to the appropriate officer for action.

Please note that we have a statutory obligation to reply to your request
within 20 working days (i.e. by 20/11/2017).

Yours sincerely,

Wealden Information Governance

 

 

Kirsty Ward, Wealden District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Worth,

Please find attached a response to your recent request for information
dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

You can view the Open Government Licence (version 3). at:-
[1]http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
(External Link)

Yours sincerely

Information Governance

Wealden District Council

 

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Dear Kirsty Ward,

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are allocated to the oldest debt.

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

Dear Kirsty Ward,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 18 November 2017 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

InformationGovernance, Wealden District Council

Good morning Ms Worth

We have checked our records and do not appear to have received you request for clarification.

Please could you forward your request again and we will provide you with a response as quickly as we are able.

Regards

Information Governance

show quoted sections

Dear InformationGovernance,

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are allocated to the oldest debt.

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

InformationGovernance, Wealden District Council

Dear Ms Worth

Further to your email below, Officers have confirmed that they review each case before taking action. When looking at cases that have current instalments and arrear debts where unmatched payments are being received we would always seek to reach an agreement where a whole account payment plan is put in place. This will prevent the current charge falling into arrears and reduce the existing arrears.

I hope this answers your query.
Regards

Information Governance

show quoted sections

Dear InformationGovernance,

Thank you for your response. I consider Wealden 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 dealt with in a way which causes the least burden for the debtor, and consequently the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are being complied with. If it appears I have misunderstood anything from what I have stated I would appreciate if you would correct me.

*NOTE*: "Officers have confirmed that they review each case before taking action. When looking at cases that have current instalments and arrear debts where unmatched payments are being received we would always seek to reach an agreement where a whole account payment plan is put in place. This will prevent the current charge falling into arrears and reduce the existing arrears."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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