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

The request was partially successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Gleadhill, Lynn, Salford City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Worth,

 

Please find the response to your request as attached.

 

Thank you

Lynn

 

 

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

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Gwyn Worth

 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Gleadhill,

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

Gleadhill, Lynn, Salford City Council

Dear Mr Worth,

In answer to the below question there are measures in place to ensure the payments are correctly matched.

If a customer is paying in accordance with their instalments on their current financial year then it will automatically match it.

If the payment does not match any instalment plan our systems are set up to post to the oldest debt on the account.

The customer should always match their instalment plan exactly in order to prevent this from happening.

Thank you
Lynn

Lynn Gleadhill
Principal Information Governance Officer
Service Reform
Salford City Council
Innovation House
Civic Centre
Chorley Road
Swinton
M27 5DA
E   [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Gleadhill,

Thank you for your response. I consider Salford City Council has provided the information I requested, however, 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 being unable to confirm that there are measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor that the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are not being complied with. If the laws of appropriation were being complied with, 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 above I would appreciate if you would correct me.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Gleadhill, Lynn, Salford City Council

Dear Mr Worth,

The council believes that by providing the customers with instalment plans the appropriate measures are in place to allocate customer payments correctly.

The council would only allocate to the oldest debt if a payment plan is not matched and if there were arrears on the account. If the customers account had no arrears it would automatically be paid against the current financial year.

If a customer fails to meet the requested instalment but informs us at the time that his intention was to pay towards a specific year then we will also reallocate this at their request. The exception to this would be if the customer has avoided further costs by having the payment on their arrears and then also requests it to be moved to their current financial year to avoid costs on that account also.

The council believes that we have the appropriate measures in place but do not monitor every individual account and we expect the customer to take responsibility when making payments on their account.

I hope this fully answers your questions.

Thank you
Lynn

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Gleadhill,

I still consider that the council does not have adequate measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor and therefore the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are not being complied with.

However, I'm unsure how the circumstances would arise as are set out in the following:

"The exception to this would be if the customer has avoided further costs by having the payment on their arrears and then also requests it to be moved to their current financial year to avoid costs on that account also."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Gleadhill, Lynn, Salford City Council

Dear Mr Worth,

I have passed your email with your further queries to the appropriate department who will contact you shortly.

Thank you
Lynn

Lynn Gleadhill
Principal Information Governance Officer
Service Reform
Salford City Council
Innovation House
Civic Centre
Chorley Road
Swinton
M27 5DA
DD    0161 793 2940
E   [email address]

show quoted sections

Salford City Council

 
[1]Salford City Council
 
 
 

Dear Mr Worth,

Your enquiry has been passed to us regarding the allocation of council tax
funds. Please accept my apologies for the delay in my response.

I understand you would like some clarity on the following paragraph

"The exception to this would be if the customer has avoided further costs
by having the payment on their arrears and then also requests it to be
moved to their current financial year to avoid costs on that account
also."

Please accept my apologies as this was clearly poorly worded and should
have been more concise. I would also like to clarify this scenario will
only happen where customers are not up to date with their council tax
account and have arrears outstanding on a previous account.

If a customer makes a payment and it has not been posted to the one they
intended we will transfer it accordingly if we are informed within a
reasonable timescale. If the payment has prevented further recovery actio
n by being posted incorrectly and the customer then wishes for us to
transfer it at a much later date to another account to avoid recovery
action we will not do so as we believe it has been matched to the benefit
of the customer.

As stated there are a number of factors that are considered and we believe
our processes are robust enough to allocate payments to satisfy the
criteria in the legislation. We always advise that the customer pays in
accordance with their instalment plan(s) and to contact us as soon as
possible if they are unable to do so.

If you feel you have a council tax account where the payment(s) has not
been allocated correctly and/or in the account holders best interests then
please contact us with their individual details through our website. We
will be happy to investigate further. However we will not respond using
the public forum when personal details have been provided.

I hope this clarifies the matter.

Kind regards,
N Dawson

 
 
[2]Do more online
 
 
 

[3]Facebook
 

[4]Flickr
 

[5]Twitter
 

[6]YouTube
 

[7]RSS
feeds
 

 

Salford City Council, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton,
Salford, M27 5AW

 
 
 
 

Please read - Disclaimer
This email is from Salford City Council. Its content and attachments are
confidential and are intended for the above named recipient only. If this
has come to you in error, please notify us immediately (via our [8]ICT
Help Desk) and delete the message from your system. You must take no
action based on this, nor must you copy or disclose it or any part of its
contents to any person or organisation. If you get an email that seems to
be from us but you're not sure if it's genuine, please let us know
straight away.

This email message has been checked for computer viruses. However, we
cannot accept any responsibility for any damage or loss caused by software
viruses.

Please do not reply to this email as we cannot accept incoming replies. If
you would like to contact us, please visit the [9]Contact Us page on our
website.

Statements and opinions contained in this email may not necessarily
represent those of Salford City Council. As a public body, the council may
be required to disclose this email [or any response to it] under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000, unless the information in it is covered
by one of the exemptions in the Act.

Safety and Security
We will never ask for personal details about you or your Salford Customer
account via email.

 
 

References

Visible links
1. Salford City Council
http://www.salford.gov.uk/
2. Do more online
http://www.salford.gov.uk/
3. Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/SalfordCouncil
4. Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/salfordcit...
5. Twitter
https://twitter.com/SalfordCouncil
6. YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/user/SalfordCity...
7. RSS feeds
http://www.salford.gov.uk/contacts/rss-f...
8. https://www.salford.gov.uk/e-mail
9. https://www.salford.gov.uk/contacts/

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org