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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

City Contact Centre, Newport City Council

Bore da/Good morning,

Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received on 08/11/2017 and the relevant department is dealing with it under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

You should receive a reply to your request within the statutory time limit of 20 working days.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we will let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you, and you will be required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact us.

For future reference, all Freedom of Information requests can now be submitted via the link below.

www.newport.gov.uk/foi

Should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on the Telephone number below. Our hours of opening are Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.

Kind regards,

Catherine
Newport City Council Contact Centre
Tel: 01633 656 656
Minicom: 01633 656 657

Visit www.newport.gov.uk
Did you know we offer a range of council services online, easy to use and available 24/7.

Mae’r Cyngor yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg a Saesneg. Byddwn yn cyfathrebu â chi yn eich dewis iaith, boed yn Saesneg, yn Gymraeg neu’n ddwyieithog, cyhyd â’n bod yn ymwybodol o’ch dewis. Ni fydd gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

The Council welcomes correspondence in English or Welsh. We will communicate with you in the language of your choice, whether that’s English, Welsh or in Bilingual format as long as we know which you prefer. Corresponding in Welsh will not lead to delay.

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Newport City Council

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your request for information about :

Ctax recovery

Received on 08/11/2017

This request has been formally logged in our FOI management system and has been assigned the reference REQ05144.
You should receive a reply to your request within the statutory time limit of 20 working days.

Please remember to quote the reference number REQ05144 in any future communications.

Yours sincerely,
Information Management

Mae’r Cyngor yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg, Saesneg neu yn y ddwy iaith. Byddwn yn cyfathrebu â chi yn ôl eich dewis. Ni fydd gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

The Council welcomes correspondence in English or Welsh or both, and will respond to you according to your preference. Corresponding in Welsh will not lead to delay.

Disclaimer/Ymwadiad

This email contains information intended for the addressee only and may be confidential, the subject of legal or professional privilege, or be otherwise protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient of this message, please notify the sender immediately and do not disclose, distribute or copy the email to any other party. This email and any attached file are the property of Newport City Council.

When you email Newport City Council, you consent to the Council monitoring and reading any such emails for the purposes of security and legislative compliance. For the full disclaimer please access http://www.newport.gov.uk/disclaimer.

Mae'r e-bost hwn yn cynnwys gwybodaeth y bwriedir ar gyfer y derbynnydd yn unig a gall fod yn gyfrinachol, yn destun ragorfraint gyfreithiol neu broffesiynol, neu fel arall wedi’i diogelu rhag cael ei rhyddhau. Os nad chi yw derbynnydd bwriadedig y neges hon, a fyddech cystal â rhoi gwybod i'r anfonwr ar unwaith a pheidio â datgelu, dosbarthu neu gopïo’r e-bost i unrhyw barti arall. Mae’r e-bost hon ac unrhyw ffeiliau atodedig yn eiddo i Gyngor Dinas Casnewydd.

Pan fyddwch yn anfon e-bost at Gyngor Dinas Casnewydd, rydych yn cydsynio i’r Cyngor fonitro a darllen unrhyw e-byst o’r fath at ddibenion cydymffurfio â diogelwch ac â deddfwriaeth. I weld yr ymwadiad llawn ewch i http://www.newport.gov.uk/ymwadiad

Emma Johnson (Income Collection Manager), Newport City Council

Link: [1]File-List

Dear Mr Worth,

 

Thank you for your recent request for information which I have enclosed
below for ease of reference. Your request has been treated in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and/or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004.

 

Your Request :  REQ05144

 

 

I can confirm that we do hold information that falls within the scope of
your request. The answers to your questions have been provided in Red Text
below.

 

Original questions and answers.

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

If the council taxpayer makes it clear which debt a payment is to be
allocated the council will abide by that and allocate the payment
accordingly. Where no preference is stated and the taxpayer owes multiple
amounts the payment would be allocated to the oldest debt unless that debt
is being collected by alternative means such as an attachment of earnings
order, in which case it would be allocated to the next oldest debt.

 

I hope this provides the information you were looking for; if there is any
further information that we can provide, please submit a further request.
If you have any queries about this email or if you are unhappy with the
service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a
complaint or request a review of our decision, please contact me.

 

If you are not content with the subsequent outcome of your complaint, you
may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the
Councils complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioners Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

For future reference, all Freedom of Information requests can now be
submitted via the link below.

 

[2]www.newport.gov.uk/foi

 

Regards

 

Emma Johnson

Rheolwr Casglu Incwm - Income Collection Manager

Cyllid - Finance

Cyngor Dinas Casnewydd - Newport City Council

 

Croeso i chi gyfathrebu â ni yn Gymraeg a Saesneg

Please feel free to communicate with us in Welsh and English

 

 

 

Mae’r Cyngor yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg, Saesneg neu yn y ddwy
iaith. Byddwn yn cyfathrebu â chi yn ôl eich dewis. Ni fydd gohebu yn
Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

The Council welcomes correspondence in English or Welsh or both, and will
respond to you according to your preference. Corresponding in Welsh will
not lead to delay.

Disclaimer/Ymwadiad

This email contains information intended for the addressee only and may be
confidential, the subject of legal or professional privilege, or be
otherwise protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient
of this message, please notify the sender immediately and do not disclose,
distribute or copy the email to any other party. This email and any
attached file are the property of Newport City Council.

When you email Newport City Council, you consent to the Council monitoring
and reading any such emails for the purposes of security and legislative
compliance. For the full disclaimer please access
http://www.newport.gov.uk/disclaimer.

Mae'r e-bost hwn yn cynnwys gwybodaeth y bwriedir ar gyfer y derbynnydd yn
unig a gall fod yn gyfrinachol, yn destun ragorfraint gyfreithiol neu
broffesiynol, neu fel arall wedi’i diogelu rhag cael ei rhyddhau. Os nad
chi yw derbynnydd bwriadedig y neges hon, a fyddech cystal â rhoi gwybod
i'r anfonwr ar unwaith a pheidio â datgelu, dosbarthu neu gopïo’r e-bost i
unrhyw barti arall. Mae’r e-bost hon ac unrhyw ffeiliau atodedig yn eiddo
i Gyngor Dinas Casnewydd.

Pan fyddwch yn anfon e-bost at Gyngor Dinas Casnewydd, rydych yn cydsynio
i’r Cyngor fonitro a darllen unrhyw e-byst o’r fath at ddibenion
cydymffurfio â diogelwch ac â deddfwriaeth. I weld yr ymwadiad llawn ewch
i http://www.newport.gov.uk/ymwadiad

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/cid:filelist.xml@01D3639E.F4303920
2. http://www.newport.gov.uk/foi

Dear Emma Johnson (Income Collection Manager),

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are allocated to the oldest liability (unless express instructions are given by the customer).

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

Emma Johnson (Income Collection Manager), Newport City Council

Dear Mr Worth,
As per the response to your Freedom of Information Request I have confirmed that miscellaneous payments will be allocated to the oldest debt unless it is clear what the intentions of the payee are. In circumstances where there are multiple debts the payment history and account notes are always looked at to see if there is a pattern to the payments so that they can be allocated accordingly.
Regards

Emma Johnson
Rheolwr Casglu Incwm - Income Collection Manager
Cyllid - Finance
Cyngor Dinas Casnewydd - Newport City Council

01633 851338
[email address]

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Dear Emma Johnson (Income Collection Manager),

Thank you for clarifying my query. I consider Newport City 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).

If it appears I have misunderstood anything by what I have stated I would appreciate if you would correct me.

*NOTE*: "In circumstances where there are multiple debts the payment history and account notes are always looked at to see if there is a pattern to the payments so that they can be allocated accordingly."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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