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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

complaintsandinformation, Enfield Council

Thank you for your email.

We will respond as soon as possible.

Regards,

Complaints and Access to Information Team,
Enfield Council.

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complaintsandinformation, Enfield Council

Classification: OFFICIAL
Dear Gwyn Worth,

Thank you for making a request for information to the London Borough of Enfield.

We are aiming to respond to your request by 07/11/17 and will let you know if we hold the information you requested and whether or not we can release it under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We are now making an initial assessment of your request and we will contact you if any clarification is needed.

If you have any queries regarding your request, please contact us at [Enfield Council request email] quoting your reference CRM FOI 2940.

Regards,

Matthew Breslin
Complaints and Access to Information Coordinator- Gateway Services Finance, Resources and Customer Services
0208 379 4397
Enfield Council
39 London Road
Enfield
EN2 6DS

Dear complaintsandinformation,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Enfield Council should normally have responded promptly and by 3 November 2017

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

complaintsandinformation, Enfield Council

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    CRM FOI 2940 Freedom of Information request Ensuring customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action additional costs or hardship SEC OFFICIAL.txt

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Classification: OFFICIAL
Dear Gwyn Worth,

Thank you for your enquiry, please find attached the response that was sent to you on the 12 October 2017.

Kind regards

Theresa Willard
Complaints and Access to Information Coordinator- Gateway Services Finance, Resources and Customer Services Enfield Council Thomas Hardy House
39 London Road
Enfield
EN2 6DS

Email: [email address]

‘Enfield Council is committed to serving the whole borough fairly, delivering excellent services and building strong communities.’

show quoted sections

Dear complaintsandinformation,

Thank you for stating that 'non-specific payments are allocated to the oldest arrears held'.

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

Geoff Waterton, Enfield Council

Classification: OFFICIAL
Dear Gwyn,

As stated in the absence of a payment matching a specific amount or instalment amount, or a specific instruction, we allocate to the oldest debt first. There are no measures in place to reallocate an arrears payment of this nature without specific instruction to do so.

Geoff Waterton
Head of Service - Assessment and collection services Finance, Resources and Customer Services Enfield Council Silver Street Enfield
EN1 3XY

Tel: 020 8379 4778
Email: [email address]

"Enfield Council is committed to serving the whole borough fairly, delivering excellent services and building strong communities".

From: Gwyn Worth [mailto:[FOI #436954 email]]
Sent: 08 November 2017 13:27
To: complaintsandinformation <[Enfield Council request email]>
Subject: RE: CRM FOI 2940 Freedom of Information request - Ensuring customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship [SEC=OFFICIAL]

Dear complaintsandinformation,

Thank you for stating that 'non-specific payments are allocated to the oldest arrears held'.

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

show quoted sections

Dear Geoff Waterton,

Thank you for your response. I consider Enfield 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 indicating that there are no measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor (other than relying on customer contact) 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).

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Whatshouldtheyknow left an annotation ()

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

'Where a sum is not recognised as a “normal” instalment the system is set to allocate that payment to current year. The reason for this is to prevent recovery action on the Council Tax payer’s current year’s debt.

By allocating payments to the current year’s debt, and thus preventing further chargers being applied to the account, the Council is acting in a fiduciary capacity.'

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