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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Information Manager, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Sir/Madam,

I acknowledge with thanks your request for information; this request has been considered as a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

As such, your request may take up to 20 working days to be processed and has been passed on to an appropriate officer.

Please be advised that if an exemption applies to the information that you have requested, the statutory period may be exceeded in accordance with the provisions of that Act.

Should you have any queries, please contact: [Oldham Council request email]

Yours sincerely,

Information Manager

Information Management Team
Corporate & Commercial Services
Oldham Council
Level 11
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham OL1 1UL

[email address]

Exchequer ClientTeam, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Gwyn,

 

Please find attached the response to your freedom of information request.

 

Kind Regards

 

Adam

 

 

Adam Parsey
Exchequer Client Manager (Revenues)
Oldham Council

Civic Centre

West Street

Oldham

OL1 1UG

E: [1][email address]

 

*Please note: For satellite navigation purposes the postcode is OL1 1NL
Visiting the Civic Centre by Metrolink? The nearest stop is Oldham King
Street (2-3 mins walk)

 

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From: Gwyn Worth [[2]mailto:[FOI #443447 email]]

Sent: 05 November 2017 09:20

To: Information Manager

Subject: Freedom of Information request - Ensuring customers are not
subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

 

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

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Gwyn Worth

 

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Dear Exchequer ClientTeam,

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are allocated to the oldest 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 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

Mohammed Nazin (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

I would suggest you contact the ICO if you do not receive the answers you want.

Also you can submit this to the Manchester Evening News.

Oldham Council bully who they think they can extract payment from and ignore the non tax payers who are unable to pay.

Dear Exchequer ClientTeam,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 1 December 2017 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 1 December 2017 and 6 February 2018 request/clarification.

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Exchequer ClientTeam,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 1 December 2017, 6 February 2018 and 8 April 2018 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Exchequer ClientTeam, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Gwyn,

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your enquiry.

The Council's Council Tax software is set to post according to instalments set out within the Council Tax demand notice or arrangements agreed with the taxpayer. If the payment cannot match to this it then payments default to the oldest period.

However further to this the Council Tax team review payments received to ensure payment are allocated to the correct financial year.
This consists of running a report from our Council Tax administration system that shows accounts with previous years arrears in which payments have been allocated.

A Council officer then reviews the payments to ascertain whether payments have been allocated reasonably as per the taxpayers intentions.

Kind Regards

Adam

Adam Parsey
Exchequer Client Manager (Revenues)
Oldham Council
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham
OL1 1UG

E: [email address]

*Please note: For satellite navigation purposes the postcode is OL1 1NL
Visiting the Civic Centre by Metrolink? The nearest stop is Oldham King Street (2-3 mins walk)

Dear Exchequer ClientTeam,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 1 December 2017, 6 February 2018 and 8 April 2018 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

show quoted sections

Dear Exchequer ClientTeam,

Thank you for clarifying your response. I consider Oldham 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*: "...the Council Tax team review payments received to ensure payment are allocated to the correct financial year. This consists of running a report from our Council Tax administration system that shows accounts with previous years arrears in which payments have been allocated. A Council officer then reviews the payments to ascertain whether payments have been allocated reasonably as per the taxpayers intentions."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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