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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request, please be aware
that we can accept requests via our on-line web-form, which you may find
an easier way of submitting a request in future.

The online request form can be found at:
[1]http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

Yours sincerely

 

Customer Services

 

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Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Gwyn Worth

RE: Freedom of Information Request Ref No: 9452

Thank you for your recent communication, and to understand your request further we require some clarification.

When a payment is made it needs to have a cost code attached to it, or an invoice number, to make payment against and therefore there can't be 'non specific payments'. Where you talk about current or oldest year's liability, please can you specify what service area(s) you meant?

Yours sincerely

Stuart Bignell
Information Services
Customer Services

Dear Wokingham Borough Council,

This relates to Council Tax payments.

If Wokingham Borough Council has unique reference numbers for each year's liability then consider this request answered.

P.S. non specific payments = unmatched payments

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request, please be aware
that we can accept requests via our on-line web-form, which you may find
an easier way of submitting a request in future.

The online request form can be found at:
[1]http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

Yours sincerely

 

Customer Services

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

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informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Gwyn Worth,

Thank you for your quick reply.

We will check with Council Tax in relation to this and issue a response by
the 04/12/2017 (20 working days allowed for FOIs).

Kind regards,
 
Stuart Bignell
Customer Relations Officer
Information Services
Customer Services & IMT
Tel: 0118 974 6000
[email address]

FOI Team, Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Gwyn Worth

RE: Freedom of Information Request Ref No: 9452

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information you
have requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000/Environmental
Information Regulations.

Please be aware the Acts and Regulations define a number of exemptions
which may prevent release of the information you have requested. Your
request will be reviewed and if any of the exemption categories apply,
then the information will not be provided.

If collating the information you have requested, is going to take longer
than 18hrs, there may be a fee payable. In this event, the fee must be
paid before the information is provided and the 20 working day timescale
will be suspended until payment is received.

Most of the information we provide in response to Freedom of Information
requests is subject to copyright protection. You are free to use the
information provided for your own use, including for non-commercial
research purposes. The information may also be used for the purpose of
news reporting. However, any other type of re-use, for example, by
publishing the information or issuing copies to the public will require
the permission of the copyright owner and an appropriate fee may be
payable.

If you have any queries, please contact Customer Services on 0118 974 6000
or email

[1][Wokingham Borough Council request email]

Please quote the above reference number on any communication.

Yours sincerely

Information Governance Team Customer Services

References

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1. mailto:[Wokingham Borough Council request email]

Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Gwyn Worth

RE: Freedom of Information Request Ref No: 9452

Thank you for your recent communication, please find below the information in response to your request.

1. How does Wokingham Borough Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?
-We can confirm that any unmatched non-specific payments are allocated to oldest year’s liability.

If you are dissatisfied with our response, you can request for it to be reviewed by contacting the Council’s Legal Services at Wokingham Borough Council via; Information Services, Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1BN, or e-mailing [Wokingham Borough Council request email] detailing the reasons why you are dissatisfied with the response. Please address your correspondence to Shared Legal Solutions.

Requests not resolved at that stage can be escalated to the Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

For further information, please visit: https://ico.org.uk/

Yours sincerely

Stuart Bignell
Information Services
Customer Services

Dear Wokingham Borough Council,

Thank you for stating that any unmatched non-specific payments are allocated to the oldest liability.

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 faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request, please be aware
that we can accept requests via our on-line web-form, which you may find
an easier way of submitting a request in future.

The online request form can be found at:
[1]http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

Yours sincerely

 

Customer Services

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

If you are not the addressees any disclosure, reproduction, distribution,
other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited.

If you received this message in error please return it to the originator
and confirm that you have deleted all copies of it.

All messages sent by this organisation are checked for viruses using the
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transmitted. Please therefore ensure that you take your own precautions
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References

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informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Gwyn Worth

RE: Freedom of Information Request Ref No: 9452

Thank you for your additional question. We are seeking the information from the relevant department and will respond within 10 working days.

Kind Regards

Pam Chahal
Information Services
Customer Services
Wokingham Borough Council
Shute End, Wokingham
RG40 1BN
 
[Wokingham Borough Council request email]
www.wokingham.gov.uk

show quoted sections

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Good afternoon Gwyn,

 

Please see our response to your clarification on your freedom of
information request ref:9452

 

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.?

-          The only measure in place is that a daily report is produced
when any unmatched payments are received towards an account that has one
or more Liability Orders with Enforcement Agents. This report is checked
daily and payments in would be reviewed and allocated taking into
consideration the current year’s liability and recovery status.

-          Any other unmatched payments are automatically allocated to the
oldest years debt. If a liable party contacts to confirm that a payment
received towards the account is intended for current year’s liability the
payment would be re-allocated.

 

Regards

 

Neil Sinclair

Customer Relations Officer

Information Services

Wokingham Borough Council

Shute End, Wokingham

RG40 1BN

Tel: 01189746000

Email: [1][email address]

[2]www.wokingham.gov.uk

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear informationrequests,

Re; "- The only measure in place is that a daily report is produced when any unmatched payments are received towards an account that has one or more Liability Orders with Enforcement Agents. This report is checked daily and payments in would be reviewed and allocated taking into consideration the current year’s liability and recovery status."

Would this not cover all cases where allocation to arrears would avoid unnecessary recovery of the current year liability?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request, please be aware
that we can accept requests via our on-line web-form, which you may find
an easier way of submitting a request in future.

The online request form can be found at:
[1]http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

Yours sincerely

 

Customer Services

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

If you are not the addressees any disclosure, reproduction, distribution,
other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited.

If you received this message in error please return it to the originator
and confirm that you have deleted all copies of it.

All messages sent by this organisation are checked for viruses using the
latest antivirus products. This does not guarantee a virus has not been
transmitted. Please therefore ensure that you take your own precautions
for the detection and eradication of viruses.

 

 

References

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Dear Wokingham Borough Council,

Will you please say whether you intend to deal with my 11 December 2017 request/clarification. Please note I have reworded it to make it clearer.

Re; "- The only measure in place is that a daily report is produced when any unmatched payments are received towards an account that has one or more Liability Orders with Enforcement Agents. This report is checked daily and payments in would be reviewed and allocated taking into consideration the current year’s liability and recovery status."

I assume that if a customer has one or more Liability Orders with Enforcement Agents then the daily checks would cover all cases where allocation of unmatched payments to arrears would be to the detriment of the customer and therefore be an appropriate measure?

Assuming again that Liability Orders with attachments to earnings/benefits would not be an issue because these will always be allocated to the relevant years liability.

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request, please be aware
that we can accept requests via our on-line web-form, which you may find
an easier way of submitting a request in future.

The online request form can be found at:
[1]http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

Yours sincerely

 

Customer Services

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

If you are not the addressees any disclosure, reproduction, distribution,
other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited.

If you received this message in error please return it to the originator
and confirm that you have deleted all copies of it.

All messages sent by this organisation are checked for viruses using the
latest antivirus products. This does not guarantee a virus has not been
transmitted. Please therefore ensure that you take your own precautions
for the detection and eradication of viruses.

 

 

References

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informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Mr Worth.

Thank you for your email.

Please accept my sincere apologies but it appears that we did not receive
your email dated 11th December 2017.

I have forwarded your clarification request to our Service Area and have
asked them to provide a response within 10 working days.

I will be in contact once I have received a response from our Service
Area.

Kind Regards

Pam Chahal
Information Services
Customer Services
Wokingham Borough Council
Shute End, Wokingham
RG40 1BN
 
[Wokingham Borough Council request email]
www.wokingham.gov.uk

show quoted sections

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Mr Worth.

 

Further to your recent email, please find below the clarification you
requested.

 

I assume that if a customer has one or more Liability Orders with
Enforcement Agents then the daily checks would cover all cases where
allocation of unmatched payments to arrears would be to the detriment of
the customer and therefore be an appropriate measure?

-          The daily report received and actioned ONLY covers cases where
a payment is received where there is one or more Liability Order with
Enforcement Agents.

 

Assuming again that Liability Orders with attachments to earnings/benefits
would not be an issue because these will always be allocated to the
relevant years liability.

-           Accounts with Attachments of Earnings and Attachments to
Benefits are monitored monthly by the Recovery team to ensure payments are
allocated to the relevant years liabilities.

 

Kind Regards.

 

Pam Chahal

Information Services

Customer Services

Wokingham Borough Council

Shute End, Wokingham

RG40 1BN

 

[1][Wokingham Borough Council request email]

[2]www.wokingham.gov.uk

 

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

If you are not the addressees any disclosure, reproduction, distribution,
other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited.

If you received this message in error please return it to the originator
and confirm that you have deleted all copies of it.

All messages sent by this organisation are checked for viruses using the
latest antivirus products. This does not guarantee a virus has not been
transmitted. Please therefore ensure that you take your own precautions
for the detection and eradication of viruses.

 

 

References

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1. mailto:[Wokingham Borough Council request email]
2. http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/

Dear informationrequests,

Thank you for clarifying your response. I consider Wokingham 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 *NOTES*) 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 1*: "...a daily report is produced when any unmatched payments are received towards an account that has one or more Liability Orders with Enforcement Agents. This report is checked daily and payments in would be reviewed and allocated taking into consideration the current year’s liability and recovery status."

*NOTE 2* In reference to note 1, it is assumed that the council will routinely have Liability Orders against all customers who have outstanding liability from previous years.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request, please be aware
that we can accept requests via our on-line web-form, which you may find
an easier way of submitting a request in future.

The online request form can be found at:
[1]http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

Yours sincerely

 

Customer Services

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

If you are not the addressees any disclosure, reproduction, distribution,
other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited.

If you received this message in error please return it to the originator
and confirm that you have deleted all copies of it.

All messages sent by this organisation are checked for viruses using the
latest antivirus products. This does not guarantee a virus has not been
transmitted. Please therefore ensure that you take your own precautions
for the detection and eradication of viruses.

 

 

References

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informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Dear Mr Worth

 

Thank you for your email and please see below for clarification.

 

*NOTE 1*: "...a daily report is produced when any unmatched payments are
received towards an account that has one or more Liability Orders with
Enforcement Agents. This report is checked daily and payments in would be
reviewed and allocated taking into consideration the current year’s
liability and recovery status." The daily report produced will show any
payments made towards an account with one or more Liability Orders with
Enforcement Agents and all payments are checked. We do not have the
ability to refine this down to unmatched payments only.

 

*NOTE 2* In reference to note 1, it is assumed that the council will
routinely have Liability Orders against all customers who have outstanding
liability from previous years. This is also correct. However daily reports
are not produced for all accounts with Liability Orders where payments are
received. Only for accounts with Liability Orders with Enforcement Agents.
All other accounts with Liability Orders are monitored by the recovery
department via weekly/monthly/quarterly reports and any unmatched payments
would be reallocated as appropriate.

 

Kind Regards

 

 

Pam Chahal

Information Services

Customer Services

Wokingham Borough Council

Shute End, Wokingham

RG40 1BN

 

[1][Wokingham Borough Council request email]

[2]www.wokingham.gov.uk

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

If you are not the addressees any disclosure, reproduction, distribution,
other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited.

If you received this message in error please return it to the originator
and confirm that you have deleted all copies of it.

All messages sent by this organisation are checked for viruses using the
latest antivirus products. This does not guarantee a virus has not been
transmitted. Please therefore ensure that you take your own precautions
for the detection and eradication of viruses.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Wokingham Borough Council request email]
2. http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/

Dear informationrequests,

Thank you for your additional clarification (much appreciated).

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

informationrequests, Wokingham Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request, please be aware
that we can accept requests via our on-line web-form, which you may find
an easier way of submitting a request in future.

The online request form can be found at:
[1]http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

Yours sincerely

 

Customer Services

 

DISCLAIMER
You should be aware that all e-mails received and sent by this Council are
subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party. (The information contained in this message or
any of its attachments may be privileged and confidential and intended for
the exclusive use of the addressee). The views expressed may not be
official policy but the personal views of the originator.

If you are not the addressees any disclosure, reproduction, distribution,
other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited.

If you received this message in error please return it to the originator
and confirm that you have deleted all copies of it.

All messages sent by this organisation are checked for viruses using the
latest antivirus products. This does not guarantee a virus has not been
transmitted. Please therefore ensure that you take your own precautions
for the detection and eradication of viruses.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. http://axlr8.wokinghamfoi.org.uk/feedbac...

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