Harrow Borough Council, LGO Decision 15 016 787 (£130 Council Tax Summons costs)

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Becky Saunder (Account suspended)

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

Background to my request for information.

Please refer to the following LGO decision notice 15 016 787

http://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/benefits...

" 11. In August there was another change in Miss O’s council tax support. The Council sent her a new bill, with new monthly instalments. Miss O made payments, but as they were not of amounts of the instalments the Council sent her a reminder and then a summons for the full council tax due with costs of £130.00. As Miss O did not pay the debt in full before the court hearing the court granted the Council a liability order."

Miss O had been making payments, although not of amounts of the instalments, so apparently, with payments not matching exactly the instalment amounts, the council relied on its Council Tax processing system to automatically send out reminders, final notices and summonses.

The council has discretion whether or not to apply to the Magistrates' court for a liability order, and considering payments were being made it would be seen as exploiting the court as a means of penalising Miss O, and because the process is automated, the summons costs of £130 would be almost all profit.

It is well established that costs should be awarded as compensation, not as punishment.

In R v Highgate Justices ex parte Petrou [1954] 1 ALL ER 406 it was held that costs should not exceed the proper costs incurred and should not be a penalty.

Q. On what basis did the investigating officer form his decision that there was no evidence of fault in how the Council has dealt with Miss O’s council tax account regarding exploiting the court to act as a punishment and to profit from?

Yours faithfully,

Becky Saunder

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

This is to acknowledge receipt of your email. If you are making a request for information, you should get an acknowledgement from us within the next 2-3 days with a reference number and a date by which we will respond to your request. Please note, however, that this address is only for use in relation to requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act and subject access requests made under the Data Protection Act. If your email is in relation to a new complaint please follow this link to a complaint form<http://www.lgo.org.uk/forms/ShowForm.asp...> or call 0300 061 0614 to speak to one of our Advisers, as the FOI Officer cannot deal with your complaint.

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Saunder

I attach a letter in response to your request below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Information & Records Manager | DL: 0330 403 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Becky Saunder (Account suspended)

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Local Government Ombudsmen's handling of my FOI request 'Harrow Borough Council, LGO Decision 15 016 787 (£130 Council Tax Summons costs)'.

My request (and the points made) make a strong case for why the information should be disclosed. How else can the public be satisfied that the Ombudsman is carrying out investigations in the interest of the complainant.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

Yours faithfully,

Becky Saunder

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

This is to acknowledge receipt of your email. If you are making a request for information, you should get an acknowledgement from us within the next 2-3 days with a reference number and a date by which we will respond to your request. Please note, however, that this address is only for use in relation to requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act and subject access requests made under the Data Protection Act. If your email is in relation to a new complaint please follow this link to a complaint form<http://www.lgo.org.uk/forms/ShowForm.asp...> or call 0300 061 0614 to speak to one of our Advisers, as the FOI Officer cannot deal with your complaint.

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

FOI Appeals, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Ms Saunder

This is to acknowledge receipt of your request for a review of how your information request was handled, received on 15 July 2016. Your request has been passed to the Executive Director for consideration.

We will aim to respond within 20 working days, which would be by 12 August 2016. If we are unable to do so, we will get in touch again to explain why.

Yours sincerely

Miss S Smith

Team Coordinator, Policy and Communications

[email address] I www.lgo.org.uk

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Suzanne Elford, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

3 Attachments

 

Dear Ms Saunder

Please find attached a letter from Nigel Ellis for your information.

Yours sincerely

Suzanne Elford

 

 

Suzanne Philp-Elford I Executive Assistant

[1]cid:image001.jpg@01CB121E.B0637CE0

 

Direct:  0330 403 4089

[2][email address] I [3]www.lgo.org.uk

[4]twitter button large

 

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

References

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3. http://www.lgo.org.uk/
4. https://twitter.com/LGOmbudsman

Becky Saunder (Account suspended)

Dear Suzanne Elford,

That was not worth the two month wait.

"In the decision statement the investigator stated he/she had not seen any evidence of fault in how
the Council had dealt with the complainant’s council tax account and gave reasons for this. If we
were to provide you with additional information relating to the case, we would have to show you
documents from the complaint file. Under the Local Government Act 1974 (section 32(2)), we are
not permitted to disclose any information obtained in the course of, or for the purposes of, the
investigation of a complaint, unless it is necessary for the purposes of the investigation (or for other
very limited reasons mostly related to legal proceedings). So we cannot provide this information to
you. "

Rubbish....the LGO is a sham....if it makes a decision why can it not support its decision?

Provide the information without showing documents from the complaint file – it's that simple.

Yours sincerely,

Becky Saunder

Dorothy Matricks (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Hope I made the right decision by categorizing this request as one that was refused by the LGO.

Becky Saunder (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

So the LGO acknowledges that the system is entirely automated and therefore the cost of sending out a summons is little more than the cost of a stamp, yet does not find fault with Harrow Borough Council for charging £130.00 for a summons.

See London Borough of Croydon (15 020 002)

http://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/benefits...

"21. Mr X says that if the Council had done as he asked and contacted him by email, he would not have incurred any fees. But Councils and courts are required to serve documents by post to the last known address on their files. Email is not an accepted method to send formal documents such as summonses or 14 Day Notices. The Council Tax system of each council automatically generates letters to be posted. It cannot be amended to cater for any particular person’s specific contact preferences. So it was not fault by the Council to serve documents on Mr X by post."

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