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

The request was partially successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

FOI, Isle of Anglesey Council

1 Attachment

Thank you for your recent request for information from the Isle of
Anglesey County Council.

 

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, we aim to respond to your
request within 20 working days.   In some instances we may be unable to
achieve this deadline, in which case we will advise you of the likely
timescale within which the response will be provided.

 

 

Beryl Jones

Swyddog Gwybodaeth Corfforaethol a Chwynion – Adain Gyfreithiol,  Cyngor
Sir Ynys Môn

Corporate Information and Complaints  Officer-  Legal Section, Isle of
Anglesey County Council

 

 

 

[1]cymraeg_ysgrifennwch

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Isle of Anglesey Council should normally have responded promptly and by 7 December 2017

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

I refer to your recent Freedom of Information request, copy below for ease of reference, and apologise for the delay in replying. I give below the response from the Isle of Anglesey County Council.

The computer software allocates as follows -

A payment made that is exactly the same as a monthly instalment amount for the current year will allocate against the current year's monthly instalment e.g. £37.51 owed for April 2017 and £38.00 owed for May 2017 - if £38.00 is paid it will be allocated to the May 2017 instalment.

If a payment of £39.00 is made in June 2017 and instalments for 2017/18 is 1x month at £37.51 and 9 x months at £38.00 with no arrears from previous years will offset balance for 2017/18.

If a payment of £39.00 is made in June 2017 and instalments for 2017/18 is 1x month at £37.51 and 9 x months at £38.00 but arrears of £600 for previous years, as payment of £39.00 does not match current year instalments will be allocated to previous years' balances. If there are court costs owed and included in the £600 arrears, court costs will be paid off first.

If you wish to make a payment for the current year that does not match the instalments, you should contact the Authority to specifically instruct us to allocate your payment to the year of your choice.

I trust that this explains the methodology.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of this response to your request for information, you may ask for an internal review. Please address your correspondence to the Customer Care Officer, Legal Services, Council Offices, Llangefni, Ynys Môn LL77 7TW (e-mail: [email address]).

If you are not content with the outcome of any internal review you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF. Please note that the Information Commissioner is likely to expect internal review procedures to have been exhausted before beginning his investigation.

Ruth Jones

Ruth Jones
Arweinydd Tîm Perfformiad a Chefnogaeth
Performance & Support Team Leader

Swyddogaeth Adnoddau / Resources Function,
Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey County Council,
Swyddfa’r Cyngor,
LLANGEFNI,
Ynys Môn.
LL77 7TW.

01248 752018

Croeso i chi ddelio gyda’r Cyngor yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg. Cewch yr un safon o wasanaeth yn y ddwy iaith.
You are welcome to deal with the Council in Welsh or English. You will receive the same standard of service in both languages.

show quoted sections

Dear Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

Thank you for your response.

Re; "If a payment of £39.00 is made in June 2017 and instalments for 2017/18 is 1x month at £37.51 and 9 x months at £38.00 but arrears of £600 for previous years, as payment of £39.00 does not match current year instalments will be allocated to previous years' balances."

In respect of the above circumstances will you please confirm whether or not any measures are in place to check that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt 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 Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 11 December 2017 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

I refer to your recent Freedom of Information request, copy below for ease of reference, and apologise for the delay in replying. I give below the response from the Isle of Anglesey County Council.

There is no council tax regulation which relates to the allocation of cash. It is accepted practice that where there is no indication from the debtor, either expressed or implied, where a particular payment may be allocated then the creditor may apply the payment as they see fit.

In the case of R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953], it was held that where an amount so obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere. Thus, if the amount of the payment identifies the debt, then it must be allocated to that debt. Where the debtor states where the payment should be allocated to a specific debt, then the creditor must abide by that statement. Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment should be allocated and the amount gives no clue, then it is up to the creditor to make the choice.

If when making a payment a taxpayer states to which year or debt it should be paid against, then we would allocate it accordingly.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of this response to your request for information, you may ask for an internal review. Please address your correspondence to the Customer Care Officer, Legal Services, Council Offices, Llangefni, Ynys Môn LL77 7TW (e-mail: [email address]).

If you are not content with the outcome of any internal review you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF. Please note that the Information Commissioner is likely to expect internal review procedures to have been exhausted before beginning his investigation.

Ruth Jones

Ruth Jones
Arweinydd Tîm Perfformiad a Chefnogaeth
Performance & Support Team Leader

Swyddogaeth Adnoddau / Resources Function,
Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey County Council,
Swyddfa’r Cyngor,
LLANGEFNI,
Ynys Môn.
LL77 7TW.

01248 752018

Croeso i chi ddelio gyda’r Cyngor yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg. Cewch yr un safon o wasanaeth yn y ddwy iaith.
You are welcome to deal with the Council in Welsh or English. You will receive the same standard of service in both languages.

show quoted sections

Dear Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

Re, "In the case of R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953], it was held that where an amount so obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere. Thus, if the amount of the payment identifies the debt, then it must be allocated to that debt. Where the debtor states where the payment should be allocated to a specific debt, then the creditor must abide by that statement. Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment should be allocated and the amount gives no clue, then it is up to the creditor to make the choice."

Thank you for your response which I believe, in respect of R v Miskin Lower Justices, included quoted parts (above) of an article published in an Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) magazine (interpreting various case law on appropriation of payments).

The article was written by consultant and trainer Paul Russell who made the disclaimer that "the views given in this column are personal views and should not be construed as a legal opinion"

However, even though the author stated that the views were his personal views (not legal opinion) the council has misquoted the article. It is particularly noted that the article states as follows (emphasis added):

"Where the debtor states OR IMPLIES that the payment should be allocated to a specific debt..."

Whereas the Isle of Anglesey County Council states:

"Where the debtor states where the payment should be allocated to a specific debt..."

Regarding the full article the IRRV magazine states as follows:

QUOTE
“Where should payments be allocated – to the oldest or youngest debt, to current liability or to arrears?”

Allocation of cash

This is often a difficult decision. A debtor who owes several debts may make a payment which equates to neither an installment or repayment plan, nor to a balance outstanding. I am often asked where payments should be allocated – to the oldest or youngest debt, to current liability or to arrears?

There is no council tax or business rate regulation which relates to the allocation of cash. Case law has held as follows:

Peter v Anderson (1814) held that where there is no indication from the debtor, the creditor may apply payments as they think fit.

Albermarle Supply Co Ltd v Hind & Co (1928) held that, once an election as to where a payment should be allocated, was made by a creditor and communicated to the debtor, that allocation of payment was irrecoverable by the debtor.

Stepney Corporation v Osowsky (1937) held that the debtor has first choice over allocation of payments; that the choice may be express or implied; and that the creditor cannot exercise a discretion unless there is no indication by the debtor.

R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953) held that where an amount obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere.

Thus, if the amount of the payment identifies the debt, then it must be allocated to that debt. Where the debtor states or implies that the payment should be allocated to a specific debt, the creditor must abide by that statement. Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment should be allocated and the amount gives no clue, then it is up to the creditor (local authority) to make the choice. In the latter situation, Albermarle provides that the debtor cannot take issue with the way in which the payment has been allocated.

There is total discretion afforded to the local authority, but only where there is no indication by either the amount of the payment or by the indications from the debtor.
END QUOTE

It must be further noted that the article summarised the authority of 4 cases, Peter v Anderson (1814), Albermarle Supply Co Ltd v Hind & Co (1928), Stepney Corporation v Osowsky (1937) and R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953). The Isle of Anglesey County Council has quoted the summary from the IRRV article in the context that it refers only to the case authority from the R v Miskin Lower Justices case.

Also, the article inadequately interprets the Peter v Anderson (1814) case authority. In that case it was held that;

"A person who is indebted to another on two several accounts, may, on paying him money, ascribe it to which account he pleases.–And his election may either be expressed, –Or may be inferred from the circumstances of the transaction. –But if the payer does not pay specifically on one account, the receiver may afterwards appropriate the payment to the discharge of either of the accounts that he pleases."

The above affirms that the inference from the circumstances of a transaction can be just as valid as an election by the debtor to pay specifically on one of several accounts as if his election were expressed. It is therefore self-evident that in the case of Council Tax liability (where one account is more onerous for the debtor than another) that an unmatched payment must be carried to that account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. It follows that a debtor who would be caused the additional burden from recovery action being taken in respect of his in-year liability as a consequence of payment being appropriated to his arrears, would clearly intend that his payment be appropriated to his in-year liability to avoid unnecessary additional costs etc. Evidence of an intent to appropriate would be provided in those particular circumstances to be an election to pay specifically on the current year's liability.

The judgment goes on to consider different circumstance which could indicate evidence of an intent to appropriate where an election has not been expressed. The above is considered to be one example where it would be inferred that money was paid in application to a particular debt (where the allocation to one account instead of another would prevent an unnecessary burden). Also highlighted in the judgment are the circumstances attributable to a debtor's payment pattern which would provide evidence of an intent to appropriate payment to a particular debt. If a pattern had emerged of a customer's payment being made and accepted as credited to a particular debt then it would be inferred from the nature of the transaction, even if not expressed at the time by the customer, that he intended to ascribe it to that account.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

Have you any response to my 16 March 2018 email?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

Rwyf i ffwrdd o'r swyddfa ar hyn o bryd a byddaf yn ôl bore Llun, 11-6-18,
pan byddaf yn delio â'ch ymholiad.

 

Diolch,

 

Ruth

 

Ruth Jones

Arweinydd Tîm Perfformiad a Chefnogaeth

Performance & Support Team Leader

 

Swyddogaeth Adnoddau / Resources Function,

Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey County Council,

Swyddfa’r Cyngor,

LLANGEFNI,

Ynys Môn.

LL77 7TW.

 

01248 752018

 

Mae croeso i chi ymateb  yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg ac y ceir gwasanaeth o’r
un safon yn y ddwy Iaith.

 

P Peidiwch ag argraffu'r e-bost hwn oni bai fod hynny'n wirioneddol
anghenrheidiol

  

*     *     *

 

I am currently away from the office and will return on Monday, 11-6-18,
when I will deal with your query.

 

Thanks,

 

Ruth

 

Ruth Jones

Arweinydd Tîm Perfformiad a Chefnogaeth

Performance & Support Team Leader

 

Swyddogaeth Adnoddau / Resources Function,

Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey County Council,

Swyddfa’r Cyngor,

LLANGEFNI,

Ynys Môn.

LL77 7TW.

 

01248 752018

 

You are welcome to correspond in Welsh or English and you  will receive
the same standard of service in both languages.

 

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Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

Further to your email below, your email of 16-3-18 was received but, as it did not contain a question, it was not felt necessary to reply and your message was filed.

Having re-read the email, I remain of the opinion that you were making a statement rather than asking a question but, if I have misunderstood, please get back to me.

Many thanks,

Ruth Jones

Ruth Jones
Arweinydd Tîm Perfformiad a Chefnogaeth
Performance & Support Team Leader

Swyddogaeth Adnoddau / Resources Function,
Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey County Council,
Swyddfa’r Cyngor,
LLANGEFNI,
Ynys Môn.
LL77 7TW.

01248 752018

Croeso i chi ddelio gyda’r Cyngor yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg. Cewch yr un safon o wasanaeth yn y ddwy iaith.
You are welcome to deal with the Council in Welsh or English. You will receive the same standard of service in both languages.

show quoted sections

Dear Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

I suppose what I was hoping for was some further information or feedback in respect of the anomalies I identified in the council's response.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Ruth B. Jones (Finance),

Yes, No?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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