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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Vivienne Messenger, Epping Forest District Council

3 Attachments

Dear Gwyn Worth,

Freedom of Information Request Ref:114

I refer to your recent request for information about recovery of council
tax debts, which was received by the Council on 30 October 2017.

Your request is being dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be responded to within twenty working days
of the date of its receipt by the Council.

If you have any queries about your freedom of information request, do not
hesitate to contact me. Please quote the reference number above in any
further communication concerning your request.

Yours faithfully,

Mrs V Messenger
Democratic Services Officer

Epping Forest District Council
Civic Offices,
High Street,
Epping,
Essex, CM16 4BZ

(01992) 564265

Paula Tredgett, Epping Forest District Council

2 Attachments

Dear Gwyn Worth,

Freedom of Information Request Ref: 114

I refer to your recent request for information about Recovery. The
information you requested is as follows:
We can confirm Epping Forest District Council set any non-specific
payments to be paid against the oldest debt where there is no
instructions. 
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If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your freedom of information
request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review
requests should be submitted within two months of the date of your receipt
of this response to your request and should be addressed to: Simon Hill,
Assistant Director), Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices,
Epping, Essex, CM16 4BZ.

Please quote the reference number above in any further communication
concerning your freedom of information request.

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Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office,
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Yours faithfully,

Paula Tredgett

Epping Forest District Council
Civic Offices,
High Street,
Epping,
Essex, CM16 4BZ

Dear Paula Tredgett,

Thank you for stating that 'non-specific payments to be paid against the oldest debt where there is no instructions'.

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

Paula Tredgett, Epping Forest District Council

Hello Gwyn

I have asked Revenues Manager to respond direct to you.

Many thanks, Paula

show quoted sections

Recovery Recovery, Epping Forest District Council

Dear Gwyn Worth

Thank you for your email dated 17 November 2017,

I can confirm that payments are checked daily and any unmatched payments would be transferred to the current year if this would prevent the current year's liability falling into arrears. Additionally if an unmatched payment is allocated to an older year and it is then discovered at a later date that the intention of the payment was to be made against the current years liability then the payment would also be reallocated to the intended year and any subsequent recovery action removed.

Yours sincerely

Mr G Ayers

Epping Forest District Council
Civic Offices,
High Street,
Epping,
Essex, CM16 4BZ

show quoted sections

Dear Recovery Recovery,

Thank you for clarifying my query. I consider Epping Forest 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).

*NOTE*: "...payments are checked daily and any unmatched payments would be transferred to the current year if this would prevent the current year's liability falling into arrears. Additionally if an unmatched payment is allocated to an older year and it is then discovered at a later date that the intention of the payment was to be made against the current years liability then the payment would also be reallocated to the intended year and any subsequent recovery action removed."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Recovery Recovery, Epping Forest District Council

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, due to the number of emails and
letters we receive, there may be some delay in replying to your email.

 

Therefore, it is estimated that you should receive a reply within 7 days.

 

Recovery

 

Resources

 

Epping Forest District Council

 

01992 564060

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