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

Gwyn Worth made this Freedom of Information request to Wycombe District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Wycombe District Council

Your Eform 'Wycombe FOI (1.0).wdf' was successfully submitted.
Date Submitted: 12/10/2017 11:17:46

Wycombe District Council

Dear Mr Worth

I am writing in connection with your request under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 for information relating to Council tax liability,
received on 13 October 2017. 

I have forwarded your request for information to the Revenues & Benefits
Services Manager, who will contact you shortly if any additional
information is required in order to respond to your request
appropriately. 

Every effort will be made to respond to you within 10 working days of
receipt of your request.  However, if because of the nature of your
request further investigations are necessary, we will respond within the
20 working day maximum entitled to us under the Freedom of Information Act
2000.

In the meantime, if you have any further comments relating to your
request, please contact the above named quoting the reference number
above.

Yours sincerely

 

Dani Goodman
Business Support

Wycombe District Council
Queen Victoria Road
High Wycombe
Bucks
HP11 1BB
Direct line: 01494 421596

Ref Email: [FOI #438127 email]

From: [email address]
To: [email address],
[email address], [email address]
Subject: FOI Form Submitted

Title: Mr
Forenames: Gwyn
Surname: Worth
Address1:
Address2:
Address3:
Town:
County:
Postcode:
Phone:
Email: [FOI #438127 email]
CommType: Freedom of Information
Freetext: Dear Wycombe District 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 Wycombe District Council have its computer software set to deal
with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth
Subject: Council Tax & Business Rates
Senders Ref: Council tax liability
FileRef: Not Known
Location: Not Known
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Two councils instead of five - the best solution for the people of Bucks
There is currently a debate in Buckinghamshire about the future of local
government. The district councils' proposal is for two new unitary
councils for Bucks. We believe this is the best solution for the people
who live and work here. Find out more at www.modernisingbucks.org

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Debbie Waterson, Wycombe District Council

Dear Mr Worth

In answer to your query below

There is a hierarchy of cash posting rules within our database with
instalment matching and the final posting going to the oldest debt.

I trust this answers your query.

Regards

 

Mrs D Waterson

Operations Manager for Revenues

01494 421938

 

 

From: [1][email address]
To: [2][email address],
[3][email address], [4][email address]
Subject: FOI Form Submitted

Title: Mr
Forenames: Gwyn
Surname: Worth
Address1:
Address2:
Address3:
Town:
County:
Postcode:
Phone:
Email: [5][FOI #438127 email]
CommType: Freedom of Information
Freetext: Dear Wycombe District 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 Wycombe District Council have its computer software set to deal
with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth
Subject: Council Tax & Business Rates
Senders Ref: Council tax liability
FileRef: Not Known
Location: Not Known
Email End

****** HELP US TO REDUCE PAPER USE ******
****** DO NOT PRINT THIS EMAIL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY ******
****** DISCLAIMER *****
Any opinions expressed in this email are those of the individual and are
not necessarily those of Wycombe District Council.
This email and any files transmitted within it are strictly confidential
and intended solely for the use of the individual or
entity to which it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient of
this email you must not copy, distribute or use the
communication in any other way. If you do receive this email in error
please contact the sender as soon as possible and
delete the email and any attachments.

Wycombe District Council may monitor the contents of email sent and
received
via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with its policies
and procedures.
Wycombe District Council has scanned this email and attachments for
viruses but does not accept any responsibilities
for viruses once this email has been transmitted. The recipient is
responsible for scanning emails and any attachments for viruses
themselves.

Two councils instead of five - the best solution for the people of Bucks
There is currently a debate in Buckinghamshire about the future of local
government. The district councils' proposal is for two new unitary
councils for Bucks. We believe this is the best solution for the people
who live and work here. Find out more at [6]www.modernisingbucks.org

This message has been scanned for viruses by MailControl, a service from
BlackSpider Technologies.

Click here to report this email as spam.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. mailto:[email address]
5. mailto:[FOI #438127 email]
6. http://www.modernisingbucks.org/

Dear Debbie Waterson,

Thank you for stating that 'there is a hierarchy of cash posting rules within our database with instalment matching and the final posting going 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

Debbie Waterson, Wycombe District Council

Dear Mr Worth
It is difficult to answer this without an exact specific scenario because there are many different scenarios to consider within the cash posting hierarchy.
I am not familiar with the details of the case you're quoting, but I would say if the instalment sent does not match a current instalment, then yes it could post to the oldest debt after following the cash posting hierarchy.
I would like to think that if we were made aware of this potential scenario, (i.e., customer tells us), then we can decide whether to move it to the current year's arrears to avoid any recovery costs.
Kind Regards

Mrs D Waterson
Operations Manager for Revenues
01494 421938

show quoted sections

Dear Debbie Waterson,

Thank you for clarifying my query. I consider Wycombe District 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 representation) 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 by what I have stated I would appreciate if you would correct me.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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