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

The request was partially successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Reading Borough Council,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Reading Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by 1 December 2017

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Newcombe, Emma, Reading Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Worth,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST

 

Thank you for your recent request received in this office on 2^nd November
2017. Please accept my apology for the delay in responding.

 

You have requested the following information under the provisions of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000:

Our response is as follows:-

 

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

Our response is as follows:

 

Please be advised that amounts paid will be allocated to the current year
if they match the instalment amounts/arrangement amounts; any other
payments will be allocated to arrears.

We have in the past trialled non-specific payment amounts being allocated
to the current year, but this causes problems with attachment of earning
payments.

 

If a customer contacted the Council Tax department advising that a payment
had been which was intended for the current year, but had been allocated
to a previous year’s liability we would reallocate this payment, and
withdraw any recovery action as necessary.

 

You are free to use any information supplied to you for your own personal
purposes or for non-commercial research, private study or news reporting.
However, you do not have the right to re-use the information in a way
which infringes copyright, for example, by distributing, making copies of
or publishing the information, without the permission of the copyright
holder, which in most cases will be Reading Borough Council. If you wish
to obtain permission for such use, please contact Mr C Brooks, Head of
Legal and Democratic Services, at Reading Borough Council.

Please note that your request may itself be the subject of a FOI request
and will be disclosed in that event.

If you are unhappy with this response to your request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act then you may ask for an internal
review. Please make a request in writing to Mr C Brooks, Head of Legal and
Democratic Services, at Reading Borough Council.  If you request such a
review and are not content with its outcome, then you have a 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

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact
me.

 

Yours Sincerely

Emma Newcombe

Entitlement and Assessment Team Leader

 

Reading Borough Council

Floor 1 South, Civic Offices

Bridge Street

Reading, RG1 2LU

0118 937 2610

07817014391

 

[1]Website | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]YouTube

 

 

[5]cid:image003.jpg@01CFD35C.CC960730

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Newcombe,

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are allocated to arrears.

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 (other than relying on customer contact) 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 Ms Newcombe,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 7 December 2017 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Newcombe, Emma, Reading Borough Council

Dear Mr Worth,

Please can you resend me this.

Yours Sincerely
Emma Newcombe

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Newcombe,

7 December 2017 Delivered
Dear Ms Newcombe,

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are allocated to arrears.

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 (other than relying on customer contact) 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 Emma Newcombe,

Can you please acknowledge my 21 February 2018 email for clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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