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

The request was partially successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Information Governance, Dudley Council

Gwyn Worth
 
20/10/2017
 
Dear Gwyn Worth,
 
Freedom Of Information Act 2000 - Information Request
 
Your request for information received on 11/10/2017 has now been
considered and the information requested is enclosed.
 
Your request and our response.
 
 
Dear Dudley 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 Dudley Council have its computer software set to deal with non
specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?
 
 
 
I can advise that cash is allocated as per the cash posting rules present
in the council's financial system. For example:
 
- If the payment received is for the same value as an instalment in the
current billing year - the receipt is allocated to the instalment in the
current financial year.
- If the payment received did not match a current instalment, or an
instalment for a pre agreed arrangement for any arrears, then the payment
would be allocated to the oldest debt outstanding regardless of any
enforcement stage reached.
 
If customers make payments and specify to us where the payment needs to be
allocated we will follow their instructions. If contact is made by the
customer, within a reasonable amount of time after receiving the payment,
regarding which debt the payment is in respect of, we will allocate the
payment to the debt specified and note their account as appropriate.
 
 
If you have any queries or concerns then please contact me.
 
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a comment or complaint, or request a review of
the decision, you should write to the Freedom of Information Officer at
Dudley MBC, The Council House, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1HF, telephone
0300 555 2345, e-mail [1][Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council request email]. 
 
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.
 
If you are not content with the 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 complaints
procedure provided by Dudley MBC.
 
The Information Commissioner may be contacted at:
 
Information Commissioner's Office
 
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow 
Cheshire 
SK9 5AF
Telephone:   01625 545 700
[2]www.ico.org.uk
 
Most of the information that we provide in response to Freedom of
Information Act 2000 requests will be subject to copyright protection.  In
most cases the copyright will be owned by Dudley MBC. The copyright in
other information may be owned by another person or organisation, as
indicated in the information itself. You are free to use any information
supplied for your own use, including for non-commercial research purposes.
The information may also be used for the purposes of news reporting.
However, any other type of re-use, for example, by publishing the
information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of
the copyright owner.
 
For information where the copyright is owned by the Council details of
the conditions on re-use can be found on our website at
[3]www.dudley.gov.uk.
 
For information where the copyright is owned by another person or
organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their
permission.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
M J Guy
 
(Information Governance Officer – Dudley MBC)
 
 
This Email and any attachments contains confidential information and is
intended solely for the individual to whom it is addressed. If this Email
has been misdirected, please notify the author as soon as possible. If
this email has a protective marking of OFFICIAL – SENSITIVE, PROTECT or
RESTRICTED in its title or contents, the information within must be
subject to appropriate safeguards to protect against unauthorised or
unlawful processing and against accidental loss or destruction or damage.
OFFICIAL – SENSITIVE, PROTECT and RESTRICTED information should only be
further shared where there is a legitimate need. If you are not the
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on any of the information contained, and all copies must be deleted
immediately. Whilst we take reasonable steps to try to identify any
software viruses, any attachments to this e-mail may nevertheless contain
viruses which our anti- virus software has failed to identify. You should
therefore carry out your own anti-virus checks before opening any
documents. Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council will not accept any
liability for damage caused by computer viruses emanating from any
attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail.

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References

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1. mailto:[Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council request email]
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/
3. http://www.dudley.gov.uk/

Dear Information Governance,

Thank you for stating that payments received which cannot be matched are allocated to the oldest debt outstanding.

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

Dudley Triggers, Dudley Council

Dear Gwyn Worth,

Freedom Of Information Act 2000 - Information Request DMBCIR:16175
Description : Ensuring customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery
action, additional costs or hardship

I acknowledge your request for information received on 2017-10-21
20:02:00.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information
requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days (Freedom of
Information Act 2000/Environmental Information Regulations) or 40 calendar
days (Data Protection access requests).

For your information, the Acts and Regulations define a number of
exemptions which may prevent release of the information you have
requested. There will be an assessment and if any of the exemption
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If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Information
Governance Officer at Dudley MBC, The Council House, Dudley, West
Midlands, DY1 1HF, telephone 01384 818181, e-mail
[Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council request email] .

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

Most of the information that we provide in response to Freedom of
Information/Environmental Information requests will be subject to
copyright protection. In most cases the copyright will be owned by Dudley
MBC. The copyright in other information may be owned by another person or
organisation, as indicated in the information itself. You are free to use
any information supplied for your own use, including for non-commercial
research purposes. The information may also be used for the purposes of
news reporting. However, any other type of re-use, for example, by
publishing the information or issuing copies to the public will require
the permission of the copyright owner.

For information where the copyright is owned by the Council details of the
conditions on re-use can be found on our website at www.dudley.gov.uk.

For information where the copyright is owned by another person or
organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their
permission.

Yours sincerely,

The Information Governance Team
Council House
Priory Road
Dudley
West Midlands
DY1 1HF
[Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council request email]

Information Governance, Dudley Council

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[1]www.dudley.gov.uk  
 

 

 

   Our ref:                           Service:   Direct Line:      Date:
RFI 16175 Corporate Information Governance 01384 815607 15/11/2017
Team

 
Gwyn Worth
Whatdotheyknow.com
 
15/11/2017
 
Dear Gwyn Worth,
 
Freedom Of Information Act 2000 - Information Request 16175
 
Your request for information received on 21/10/2017 has now been
considered and the information requested is enclosed.
 
Your request and our response.
 
Thank you for stating that payments received which cannot be matched are
allocated to the oldest debt outstanding.
 
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.?
 
 
There are currently no measures 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.
 
As our initial response stated "If customers make payments and specify to
us where the payment needs to be allocated we will follow their
instructions. If contact is made by the customer, within a reasonable
amount of time after receiving the payment, regarding which debt the
payment is in respect of, we will allocate the payment to the debt
specified and note their account as appropriate"
 
However if all payments made were allocated to the current year this may
be less beneficial to the customers as further enforcement action would
possibly take place adding further fees to the customer’s account.
 
 
If you have any queries or concerns then please contact me.
 
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a comment or complaint, or request a review of
the decision, you should write to the Freedom of Information Officer at
Dudley MBC, The Council House, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1HF, telephone
0300 555 2345, e-mail [2][Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council request email]. 
 
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.
 
If you are not content with the 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 complaints
procedure provided by Dudley MBC.
 
The Information Commissioner may be contacted at:
 
Information Commissioner's Office
 
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow 
Cheshire 
SK9 5AF
Telephone:   01625 545 700
[3]www.ico.org.uk
 
Most of the information that we provide in response to Freedom of
Information Act 2000 requests will be subject to copyright protection.  In
most cases the copyright will be owned by Dudley MBC. The copyright in
other information may be owned by another person or organisation, as
indicated in the information itself. You are free to use any information
supplied for your own use, including for non-commercial research purposes.
The information may also be used for the purposes of news reporting.
However, any other type of re-use, for example, by publishing the
information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of
the copyright owner.
 
For information where the copyright is owned by the Council details of
the conditions on re-use can be found on our website at
[4]www.dudley.gov.uk.
 
For information where the copyright is owned by another person or
organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their
permission.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
M J Guy
 
(Information Governance Officer – Dudley MBC)
 
 
 
 
This Email and any attachments contains confidential information and is
intended solely for the individual to whom it is addressed. If this Email
has been misdirected, please notify the author as soon as possible. If
this email has a protective marking of OFFICIAL – SENSITIVE, PROTECT or
RESTRICTED in its title or contents, the information within must be
subject to appropriate safeguards to protect against unauthorised or
unlawful processing and against accidental loss or destruction or damage.
OFFICIAL – SENSITIVE, PROTECT and RESTRICTED information should only be
further shared where there is a legitimate need. If you are not the
intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute, copy, print or rely
on any of the information contained, and all copies must be deleted
immediately. Whilst we take reasonable steps to try to identify any
software viruses, any attachments to this e-mail may nevertheless contain
viruses which our anti- virus software has failed to identify. You should
therefore carry out your own anti-virus checks before opening any
documents. Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council will not accept any
liability for damage caused by computer viruses emanating from any
attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail.

Please consider the environment - do you need to print this e-mail?

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dudley.gov.uk/
2. mailto:[Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council request email]
3. http://www.ico.org.uk/
4. http://www.dudley.gov.uk/

Dear Information Governance,

Thank you for you response.

Re; "However if all payments made were allocated to the current year this may be less beneficial to the customers as further enforcement action would possibly take place adding further fees to the customer’s account."

Not necessarily; not if there were measures in place to check payment allocation and move payments to the relevant year's account to avoid unnecessary recovery action etc.

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. Although in the the majority of cases that would be to the current liability, in a minority of cases, for example where a customer would potentially be liable to committal proceedings, then the council's duty would be to allocate payment to the arrears. But I would hope that the instances of the Council instituting committal proceedings were the exception rather than the rule and such accounts would be closely monitored.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Information Governance,

Will you please say whether you are going to address my 16 November 2017 request for clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Information Governance, Dudley Council

Dear Gwyn,

Please could you let us know what information you require clarification on as we have already response to your original request DMBCIR:16175, as per your email below.

If you could send the request to us again we will log it as a new request.

Thank you,

Mandy Fennell
Information Governance Monitoring Officer
ICT Services
Chief Executives
(01384) 814696
[email address]
www.dudley.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Information Governance,

Thank you for your reply. I had seen you response of 15 November 2017 to my original request, however, I had queried that response on 16 November 2017 and asked on 29 April 2018 whether those queries were going to be addressed.

16 November 2017
"Thank you for you response.

Re; "However if all payments made were allocated to the current year this may be less beneficial to the customers as further enforcement action would possibly take place adding further fees to the customer’s account."

Not necessarily; not if there were measures in place to check payment allocation and move payments to the relevant year's account to avoid unnecessary recovery action etc.

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. Although in the the majority of cases that would be to the current liability, in a minority of cases, for example where a customer would potentially be liable to committal proceedings, then the council's duty would be to allocate payment to the arrears. But I would hope that the instances of the Council instituting committal proceedings were the exception rather than the rule and such accounts would be closely monitored."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Information Governance,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 1 May 2018 request / clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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