Front loading Council Tax court costs to maximise income

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kasturba Lalbhai

Dear Eastleigh Borough Council,

In reference to paragraph 31-39 of ANNEX A of the below document:

http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...

Paragraph 33 states:

“In 2010, in order ‘to maximise income and thus avoid the cost of taking recovery action being passed onto the majority of other Council Tax payers who pay on time’, EBC increased its costs and changed its method of charging so that all the charge was front loaded to the summons stage. The summons costs had increased by 138% from £40 to £95, but the additional charge in obtaining the liability order was no longer levied."

Paragraph 37 states:

"7. Members should also be made aware that on average 15% of court costs raised are later written off under the Council write-off procedures.”
........
12. The increased net income (after external costs and bad debt provision has been taken into account) is estimated to be in the region of £73,000 based on 2009/2010 levels of recovery action taken.”

The council proposed front loading court costs for obtaining a Council Tax liability order to the costs of issuing a summons in order to generate additional income. This appears to have artificially inflated court summons costs to cover a broad estimate of overall expenditure which includes bad debt, waived costs, subsidising liability order costs, setting up payment plans, dealing with queries etc. which law does not permit. The law requires that the costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See paragraph 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates [2015]) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

Please disclose all recorded details held by the Council relating to the relevant legal officer's involvement in overseeing the proposal of front loading court costs for obtaining a Council Tax liability order to the costs of issuing a summons for the above stated purposes.

Yours faithfully,

kasturba Lalbhai

Mallinder, Dan, Eastleigh Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Kasturba Lalbhai

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on
11/04/2017.

We are currently treating your request as a request for information under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

As required by law, the Council will respond to you as soon as possible
and no later than twenty working days after the receipt of your request.

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Dan Mallinder

 

Dan Mallinder 

Freedom of Information Officer

Eastleigh Borough Council | Eastleigh House | Upper Market Street |
Eastleigh | SO50 9YN

[1]Direct Dial 023 8068   

[2][IMG] eastleigh.gov.uk [3][IMG] @EastleighBC  

[4][IMG]

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Mallinder, Dan, Eastleigh Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Kasturba Lalbhai

Re: Request for Information

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on
11/04/17.

 

I can confirm that Eastleigh Borough Council does hold the information
requested.

 

 

Our calculation of these costs are as follows:

 

COURT COST EXPENDITURE:         2013/14 Actual Costs used for 2014/15
charge setting

 

 

Overall Cost of Service                 2013/14 £620,933

 

Percentage attributed to Recovery                                      
35%     40%     50%

 

Recharges for recovery function                                
£217,326.55     £248,373.20     £310,466.50

 

Direct Court Charges @ £3        
                                      £7,995          £7,995         
£7,995

 

Written Off Debts & Bad Debt Provision                         
£20,000         £20,000         £20,000

 

COST  OF RECOVERY FUNCTION                                     
£245,321.90     £276,368.60     £338,462.00

 

NET COURT COSTS RAISED IN YEAR                                 
£228,035        £228,035        £228,035

(I.E. AFTER CANCELLED AND WITHDRAWN CASES)

 

The above shows that £95 charge made on application to the courts is under
the overall cost of the recovery function even at the lowest percentage of
35%.  Recovery recharges includes recharges for IT, HR, other internal
unit recharges, supplies and service, staff costs etc.

 

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further enquiries
regarding your request.

 

If you wish to make a formal complaint with regards to your information
request please contact:

 

Miss Julia Davies

Solicitor

Eastleigh House

Upper Market Street

Hampshire

SO50 9YN

Fax: 023 8064 3952

Email: [email address]

 

If you are unhappy with the way in which your complaint is dealt with then
you may apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The contact
details for the Information Commissioner are:

 

The Information Commissioners Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dan Mallinder

 

 

 

Dan Mallinder 

Freedom of Information Officer

Support Services - Legal Services

Eastleigh Borough Council | Eastleigh House | Upper Market Street |
Eastleigh | SO50 9YN

[1]Direct Dial 023 8068   

[2][IMG] eastleigh.gov.uk [3][IMG] @EastleighBC  

[4][IMG]

Sign up to 'My Eastleigh' - my.eastleigh.gov.uk

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kasturba Lalbhai

Dear Mr Mallinder,

I'm not sure why there are three percentages to choose from regarding the proportion of the overall cost of the service which has been attributed to recovery (35% 40% 50%).

These figures are obviously randomly selected. If another random figure was included like for example 10% and the £20,000 ignored which is incorrectly accounted for, then around three and a half times the overall cost of the recovery function would be achieved from the £95 charge made on application to the courts.

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

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