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

Gwyn Worth made this Freedom of Information request to North Dorset District 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 North Dorset 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 North Dorset District Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

North Dorset District Council

Dear Ms Worth,
Thank you for your information access request: we aim to complete this
within 20 working days from 30/10/2017. Please quote your reference number
(53503) in further correspondence.
Yours sincerely,
The Customer Services Team at Dorset Councils Partnership, a partnership
between North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and
Weymouth & Portland Borough Council

Disclaimer

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to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
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North Dorset District Council

Dear Ms Worth,
Thank you for your information access request: we aim to complete this
within 20 working days from 31/10/2017. Please quote your reference number
(42897) in further correspondence.
Yours sincerely,
The Customer Services Team at Dorset Councils Partnership, a partnership
between North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and
Weymouth & Portland Borough Council

Disclaimer

This e-mail is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain
information about individuals or other sensitive information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
the content of the message and notify the sender immediately. Please be
aware that all email may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

Dear Ms Gwyn  Worth,

 

Regarding the following Information Access Request:

 

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

 

Non-specific payments that don’t match a profiled or arrangement payment
are set via our software parameters to go against the oldest debt
outstanding.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to Roger Greene, Monitoring
Officer at [email address]. Please remember to quote the reference
number above in any future communications.  If you are not content with
the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly
to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Lisa Camp

Customer Services Support Officer

 

Disclaimer

This e-mail is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain
information about individuals or other sensitive information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
the content of the message and notify the sender immediately. Please be
aware that all email may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

Dear Lisa Camp,

Thank you for stating that 'non-specific payments that don’t match a profiled or arrangement payment are set via our software parameters to go against the oldest debt outstanding'.

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

North Dorset District Council

Dear Ms Worth ,
Thank you for your information access request: we aim to complete this
within 20 working days from 06/11/2017. Please quote your reference number
(4826) in further correspondence.
Yours sincerely,
The Customer Services Team at Dorset Councils Partnership, a partnership
between North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and
Weymouth & Portland Borough Council

Disclaimer

This e-mail is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain
information about individuals or other sensitive information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
the content of the message and notify the sender immediately. Please be
aware that all email may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

Dear Ms Gwyn  Worth,

 

Regarding the following Information Access Request:

 

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

 

Payment allocation routines are complex, but in general terms, if there is
no logical match to the current year instalment profile, combination of
instalments or a closing balance, then the transaction would be allocated
to the oldest debt, subject to certain rules.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to Roger Greene, Monitoring
Officer at [email address]. Please remember to quote the reference
number above in any future communications.  If you are not content with
the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly
to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Lisa Camp

Customer Services Support Officer

 

Disclaimer

This e-mail is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain
information about individuals or other sensitive information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
the content of the message and notify the sender immediately. Please be
aware that all email may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

Dear Lisa Camp,

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are allocated to the oldest debt, subject to certain rules.

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 Lisa Camp,

I apologise for the sending a duplicate email (it was unintentional). However, I did not really have the initial query clarified.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

FOI West Dorset,

Dear Gwyn Worth

Our cash posting routines report payments which have been allocated to an
old debt rather than current year instalments. These reports are checked
daily by the recovery team and if it is deemed that the payment may have
been intended for the current year, or it is in the Council Tax payer’s
interest for the payment to be allocated to the current year to avoid
further costs, then the payment is transferred.

Lisa Camp
Customer Services Support Officer
[1]www.dorsetforyou.com/contactus

Dorset Councils Partnership serving: North Dorset District Council, West
Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

For the latest council new and information sign up to
[2]www.dorsetforyou.com/e-news
Twitter.com/dorsetforyou
Facebook.com/dorsetforyou

show quoted sections

Dear FOI West Dorset,

Thank you for clarifying my query. I consider North Dorset 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*: "Our cash posting routines report payments which have been allocated to an old debt rather than current year instalments. These reports are checked daily by the recovery team and if it is deemed that the payment may have been intended for the current year, or it is in the Council Tax payer’s interest for the payment to be allocated to the current year to avoid further costs, then the payment is transferred."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

FOI West Dorset,

Thank you for contacting the FOI Team.  We acknowledge receipt of your
request for information.

This will now be passed to the relevant area(s) of the authority and a
response sent within 20 working days.

If for any reason we cannot respond in full within 20 days, we will let
you know.

You may find further information of interest on our website -
[1]www.dorsetforyou.com

 

Our normal opening hours are:

Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm

Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Disclaimer

This e-mail is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain
information about individuals or other sensitive information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
the content of the message and notify the sender immediately. Please be
aware that all email may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dorsetforyou.com/

FOI West Dorset,

Dear Mr Worth

 

No checks are in place on all unmatched payments, however on cases where
we know payments have a higher risk of not being matched (e.g. Attachment
to earnings) checks are undertaken.   Those checks won’t necessarily
result in the payment being moved to the current year, but will ensure the
payment is allocated as intended (e.g. year the Attachment to earnings
refers to).

 

Regards

 

Lisa Camp

Customer Services Support Officer

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI West Dorset,

Now I'm a bit confused as the first and second responses appear to conflict with one another.

If a customer made payment which did not match the current year's instalment amount, but exceeded it, and was consequently allocated to a previous year's liability, the council would proceed with recovery rather than reallocating the required amount needed to bring the current year's account up to date?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Ms Gwyn Worth 

 

Regarding the following Information Access Request:

 

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 Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have its computer software
set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's
liability?

 

Payment allocation routines are complex, but in general terms, if there is
no logical match to the current year instalment profile, combination of
instalments or a closing balance, then the transaction would be allocated
to the oldest debt, subject to certain rules. Our cash posting routines
report payments which have been allocated to an old debt rather than
current year instalments. These reports are checked daily by the recovery
team and if it is deemed that the payment may have been intended for the
current year, or it is in the Council Tax payer’s interest for the payment
to be allocated to the current year to avoid further costs, then the
payment is transferred.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to Roger Greene, Monitoring
Officer at [email address]. Please remember to quote the reference
number above in any future communications.  If you are not content with
the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly
to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Lisa Camp

Customer Services Support Officer

 

Disclaimer

This e-mail is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain
information about individuals or other sensitive information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
the content of the message and notify the sender immediately. Please be
aware that all email may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

Dear Lisa Camp,

Thank you, but I'm still confused.

Re; "No checks are in place on all unmatched payments, however on cases where we know payments have a higher risk of not being matched (e.g. Attachment to earnings) checks are undertaken. Those checks won’t necessarily result in the payment being moved to the current year, but will ensure the payment is allocated as intended (e.g. year the Attachment to earnings refers to)." (22 November 2017)

This contradicts this:

"Our cash posting routines report payments which have been allocated to an old debt rather than current year instalments. These reports are checked daily by the recovery team and if it is deemed that the payment may have been intended for the current year, or it is in the Council Tax payer’s interest for the payment to be allocated to the current year to avoid further costs, then the payment is transferred." (15 and 29 November 2017)

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Regarding the following Information Access Request:

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

Payment allocation routines are complex, but in general terms, if there is
no logical match to the current year instalment profile, combination of
instalments or a closing balance, then the transaction would be allocated
to the oldest debt, subject to certain rules.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to Roger Greene, Monitoring
Officer at [email address]. Please remember to quote the reference number
above in any future communications. If you are not content with the
outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to
the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner
can be contacted at Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Lisa Camp
Customer Services Support Officer

Disclaimer

This e-mail is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain
information about individuals or other sensitive information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this email in error, kindly disregard
the content of the message and notify the sender immediately. Please be
aware that all email may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

FOI West Dorset,

Dear Mr Worth

Thank you for your email. I have spoken to the Freedom of Information
Manager and she has suggested that in order to clarify the points you have
raised, you would need to ask for an internal review and then the details
of the request can be checked.

Regards

Lisa Camp
Customer Services Support Officer
[1]www.dorsetforyou.com/contactus

Dorset Councils Partnership serving: North Dorset District Council, West
Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

For the latest council new and information sign up to
[2]www.dorsetforyou.com/e-news
Twitter.com/dorsetforyou
Facebook.com/dorsetforyou

show quoted sections

Dear FOI West Dorset,

Please see my response to West Dorset District Council:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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