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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Southend FOI requests, Southend on Sea Borough Council

1 Attachment

Customer Notice: Please do not e-mail Freedom of Information requests for
Southend Borough Council to individual officers. Please instead direct
them to [1][email address] where our central team will
direct their registration and completion.

 

Dear Gwyn Worth,

 

Thank you for your request received on 4^th November for information under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your request should receive a reply
by 1^st December.

 

If you have any queries please get in touch quoting the FOI reference
number FOI 06427.

 

Kind regards,

Daniel Howard

 

Daniel Howard – Knowledge Support Officer  – Southend-on-Sea Borough
Council

Creating a Better Southend

( 01702 534929| *
[2][email address] |8 [3]www.southend.gov.uk

Policy, Engagement and Communication Group l Department for the Chief
Executive l Southend-on-Sea Borough Council | Civic Centre, Victoria
Avenue, Southend, Essex, SS2 6ER

 

 

    

Safe – clean – healthy – prosperous – excellent – Creating a better
Southend

Dear Southend FOI requests,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Southend on Sea Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by 4 December 2017

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Southend FOI requests, Southend on Sea Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Gwyn,

I have checked the system and can see a response was sent to you on the 28th November 2017.

I have attached this response for you.

Kind regards,
Daniel Howard

show quoted sections

Dear Southend FOI requests,

Thank you for stating that 'if a payment is received that does not match an instalment, it automatically goes towards the oldest outstanding 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 (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

Lynn Hyam, Southend on Sea Borough Council

1 Attachment

The original request was undelivered

 

Lynn Hyam

Assistant Revenues Manager

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

 01702 215058 (Direct) |   [email address] 
www.southend.gov.uk

Department of the Chief Executive Southend-on-Sea Borough Council | 9th
Floor, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, SS9 6ER

 

   

 

From: Lynn Hyam
Sent: 28 November 2017 15:40
To: '[email address]'
Subject: Freedom Of Information Request

 

Dear Mr Worth

 

Further to your recent Freedom of Information request.

 

Please find attached the response.

 

Regards

 

Lynn Hyam

Assistant Revenues Manager

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

 01702 215058 (Direct) |   [1][email address] 
[2]www.southend.gov.uk

Department of the Chief Executive Southend-on-Sea Borough Council | 9th
Floor, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, SS9 6ER

 

 

   

 

    

Safe – clean – healthy – prosperous – excellent – Creating a better
Southend

show quoted sections

Southend FOI requests, Southend on Sea Borough Council

Customer Notice: Please do not e-mail Freedom of Information requests for Southend Borough Council to individual officers. Please instead direct them to [email address] where our central team will direct their registration and completion.

Dear Gwyn,

Thank you for your request received on 11th December for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your request should receive a reply by 10th January 2018.

If you have any queries please get in touch quoting the FOI reference number FOI 06568.

Kind regards,
Daniel Howard

show quoted sections

Lynn Hyam, Southend on Sea Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Worth

 

I refer to your recent Freedom Of Information Request.

 

Please find attached the response

 

Regards

 

Lynn Hyam

Assistant Revenues Manager

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

 01702 215058 (Direct) |   [email address] 
www.southend.gov.uk

Department of the Chief Executive Southend-on-Sea Borough Council | 9th
Floor, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, SS9 6ER

 

   

 

    

Safe – clean – healthy – prosperous – excellent – Creating a better
Southend

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Hyam,

You have stated the following:

"If a non-standard payment is made then it is up to the customer to contact us to advise us how they wish the payment to be allocated. However before a summons is issued accounts are checked manually and if necessary payments are reallocated."

Would you please confirm whether it would be deemed 'necessary' to reallocate payment(s) to the in-year account if doing so would avoid unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc. in respect of the in-year liability?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Lynn Hyam,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 11 January 2018 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Lynn Hyam, Southend on Sea Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Worth

Please find attached a further response to your enquiry.

Regards

Lynn Hyam
Assistant Revenues Manager
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
( 01702 215058 (Direct) | ( [email address] ( www.southend.gov.uk
Department of the Chief Executive Southend-on-Sea Borough Council | 9th Floor, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, SS9 6ER

show quoted sections

Dear Lynn Hyam,

Thank you for clarifying my query. I consider Southend-on-Sea Borough 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*: "....before a summons is issued accounts are checked manually and if necessary payments are reallocated. The manual checking process is to ensure payments are correctly allocated in order to prevent unnecessary recovery action and to prevent additional costs being incurred."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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