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Misrepresenting Council Tax/Business rates (NNDR) court costs to act as deterrent/penalty

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Isabelle Alan (Account suspended)

Dear Sheffield City Council,

In reference to paragraphs 18-20 of ANNEX A of the below document:

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

Paragraph 19 states:

' Following the trend of other councils by charging more in respect of Business Rates [court costs], it was forecast that charging three times more for what had been identical costs would also improve cash flow with the overall effects of the review potentially generating additional income of £38k per annum. North East Lincolnshire Council’s report of the Director of Finance to the Cabinet Committee (Review of Recovery Costs 6 April 2001), details at paragraphs 4, 5 and 6, the relevant matter, as follows:

"4. The proposal would be to increase by £2.50 to £35, the amount charged for a Liability Order for Council Tax debts. However, with regard to Non-Domestic Rates, the Summons cost would rise from £10 to £30 in addition to the £2.50 extra for a Liability Order.

5. The decision to charge more in respect of Non-Domestic Rates is one which other local authorities are taking in increasing numbers. (There are two in this region currently, Bradford and Sheffield.) The reasoning behind this is that it is believed that some businesses deliberately delay payment of Rates as the penalty for late payment is so small in comparison to the amount that might be owed. The extra cost is seen as a way of encouraging prompt payment.

6. If the proposal is accepted, then based on the number of Summonses issued and Liability Orders obtained in the current year, an extra £38,000 of additional cost income would be generated bringing the total to approximately £390,000.” '

Sheffield City Council increased Business Rates court costs disproportionately (see para 5 above) to Council Tax court costs which involve an identical process, in order to act as a deterrent against late payment and would no doubt have generated additional revenue. This evidently artificially inflates court costs and is also acts as a deterrent/penalty which the law does not permit. The law requires that the costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See paragraphs 35 and 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 (presumably Monitoring officer) in overseeing the manipulation of court costs for obtaining liability orders for encouraging behaviour and to generate additional revenue.

Yours faithfully,

Isabelle Alan

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Isabelle Alan,
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to Business
Rates Court Cost increases to encourage behaviour and generate additional
revenue which we received on 11/06/18.
 
This has been logged as a Freedom of Information Request, and will be
dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act.  The reference number for
your request can be found above.
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to you within
20 working days, therefore, you should expect to hear a response from us
by 09/07/18.
 
In the meantime, if you have any queries please, contact us at the number
below.
 
Thank you.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [1][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
_____________________________________________
From: Isabelle Alan [[2]mailto:[FOI #490319 email]]
Sent: 09 June 2018 10:00
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Misrepresenting Council
Tax/Business rates (NNDR) court costs to act as deterrent/penalty
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
In reference to paragraphs 18-20 of ANNEX A of the below document:
 
[3]http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...
 
Paragraph 19 states:
 
' Following the trend of other councils by charging more in respect of
Business Rates [court costs], it was forecast that charging three times
more for what had been identical costs would also improve cash flow with
the overall effects of the review potentially generating additional income
of £38k per annum. North East Lincolnshire Council’s report of the
Director of Finance to the Cabinet Committee (Review of Recovery Costs 6
April 2001), details at paragraphs 4, 5 and 6, the relevant matter, as
follows:
 
"4. The proposal would be to increase by £2.50 to £35, the amount charged
for a Liability Order for Council Tax debts. However, with regard to
Non-Domestic Rates, the Summons cost would rise from £10 to £30 in
addition to the £2.50 extra for a Liability Order.
 
5. The decision to charge more in respect of Non-Domestic Rates is one
which other local authorities are taking in increasing numbers. (There are
two in this region currently, Bradford and Sheffield.) The reasoning
behind this is that it is believed that some businesses deliberately delay
payment of Rates as the penalty for late payment is so small in comparison
to the amount that might be owed. The extra cost is seen as a way of
encouraging prompt payment.
 
6. If the proposal is accepted, then based on the number of Summonses
issued and Liability Orders obtained in the current year, an extra £38,000
of additional cost income would be generated bringing the total to
approximately £390,000.” '
 
Sheffield City Council increased Business Rates court costs
disproportionately (see para 5 above) to Council Tax court costs which
involve an identical process, in order to act as a deterrent against late
payment and would no doubt have generated additional revenue. This
evidently artificially inflates court costs and is also acts as a
deterrent/penalty which the law does not permit. The law requires that the
costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See
paragraphs 35 and 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham
Magistrates [2015])
[4]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 (presumably Monitoring officer) in
overseeing the manipulation of court costs for obtaining liability orders
for encouraging behaviour and to generate additional revenue.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Isabelle Alan
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[5][FOI #490319 email]
 
Is [6][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
form:
[7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
 
Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Isabelle Alan,
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to Business
Rates Court Cost increases to encourage behaviour and generate additional
revenue which we received on 11/06/18.
 
This has been logged as a Freedom of Information Request, and will be
dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act.  The reference number for
your request can be found above.
 
Before we can begin to process your Freedom of Information Request, we
would like to clarify what information you require.
 
Following review of your case by the Council’s Business Rates Team we do
need to seek some clarification in regard to your request. Please note
that recovery costs associated with Business Rates haven’t changed in
Sheffield since 2012/13. It is not clear if the focus of your request is
the decision to amend the amount at that time, if retained. Or you believe
some later change has occurred? Can you please clarify what specific
recorded information/ timescale you are hoping to obtain details.
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to a Freedom of
Information request within 20 working days, however, the 20 working days
do not include any time spent clarifying a request.  Therefore, once we
have received your clarification, we can continue processing your request
within this time frame.
 
You can provide your clarification by writing to the address above,
emailing [1][Sheffield City Council request email] or by telephoning 0114 2734567 and asking
for the Information and Knowledge Management Team.
 
We look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [2][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Isabelle Alan [[3]mailto:[FOI #490319 email]]
Sent: 09 June 2018 10:00
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Misrepresenting Council
Tax/Business rates (NNDR) court costs to act as deterrent/penalty
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
In reference to paragraphs 18-20 of ANNEX A of the below document:
 
[4]http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...
 
Paragraph 19 states:
 
' Following the trend of other councils by charging more in respect of
Business Rates [court costs], it was forecast that charging three times
more for what had been identical costs would also improve cash flow with
the overall effects of the review potentially generating additional income
of £38k per annum. North East Lincolnshire Council’s report of the
Director of Finance to the Cabinet Committee (Review of Recovery Costs 6
April 2001), details at paragraphs 4, 5 and 6, the relevant matter, as
follows:
 
"4. The proposal would be to increase by £2.50 to £35, the amount charged
for a Liability Order for Council Tax debts. However, with regard to
Non-Domestic Rates, the Summons cost would rise from £10 to £30 in
addition to the £2.50 extra for a Liability Order.
 
5. The decision to charge more in respect of Non-Domestic Rates is one
which other local authorities are taking in increasing numbers. (There are
two in this region currently, Bradford and Sheffield.) The reasoning
behind this is that it is believed that some businesses deliberately delay
payment of Rates as the penalty for late payment is so small in comparison
to the amount that might be owed. The extra cost is seen as a way of
encouraging prompt payment.
 
6. If the proposal is accepted, then based on the number of Summonses
issued and Liability Orders obtained in the current year, an extra £38,000
of additional cost income would be generated bringing the total to
approximately £390,000.” '
 
Sheffield City Council increased Business Rates court costs
disproportionately (see para 5 above) to Council Tax court costs which
involve an identical process, in order to act as a deterrent against late
payment and would no doubt have generated additional revenue. This
evidently artificially inflates court costs and is also acts as a
deterrent/penalty which the law does not permit. The law requires that the
costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See
paragraphs 35 and 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham
Magistrates [2015])
[5]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 (presumably Monitoring officer) in
overseeing the manipulation of court costs for obtaining liability orders
for encouraging behaviour and to generate additional revenue.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Isabelle Alan
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[6][FOI #490319 email]
 
Is [7][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
form:
[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[10]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
 
Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

Isabelle Alan (Account suspended)

Dear FOI,

I have assumed rightly or wrongly that the information in the document (paras 18-20 of ANNEX A) was true.

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

If it is not true then please accept my apologies, however, if the Council did as the report suggests, which was to take "the decision to charge more in respect of Non-Domestic Rates" in order to encourage prompt payment, then the information I am asking for (accompanied with the explanatory notes) is clear enough.

Yours sincerely,

Isabelle Alan

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Isabelle Alan,
 
Thank you for your recent clarification for information relating to
Business Rates Court Cost increases to encourage behaviour and generate
additional revenue which we received on 11/06/18.
 
This has been logged as a Freedom of Information Request, and will be
dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act.  The reference number for
your request can be found above.
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to you within
20 working days, therefore, you should expect to hear a response from us
by 09/07/18.
 
In the meantime, if you have any queries please, contact us at the number
below.
 
Thank you.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [1][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Isabelle Alan [[2]mailto:[FOI #490319 email]]
Sent: 14 June 2018 20:15
To: FOI
Subject: Re: Clarification Request – Freedom of Information Request –
Reference – FOI / 446
 
Dear FOI,
 
I have assumed rightly or wrongly that the information in the document
(paras 18-20 of ANNEX A) was true.
 
[3]http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...
 
If it is not true then please accept my apologies, however, if the Council
did as the report suggests, which was to take "the decision to charge more
in respect of Non-Domestic Rates" in order to encourage prompt payment,
then the information I am asking for (accompanied with the explanatory
notes) is clear enough.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Isabelle Alan
 

show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Isabelle Alan,
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to Business
Rates Court Cost increases to encourage behaviour and generate additional
revenue which we received on 11/06/18.
 
Please find below, Sheffield City Council’s response to your request:
 
In regard to your request we can confirm that our records show that court
costs in respect of Non-Domestic Rates were last increased in 2012/13. 
The costs increased by 5% which was the RPI rate of inflation confirmed in
December 2011.
 
If you have any queries about this response, please do not hesitate to
contact us.
 
If you are unhappy with the response you have received in relation to your
request, you are entitled to have this reviewed.  You can ask for an
internal review by either writing to the above address or by emailing
[1][Sheffield City Council request email].  Internal review requests should be submitted
within 40 working days from the date of this response.
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your internal review, you
can contact the Information Commissioners Office. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, telephone 0303
123 1113, or for further details see their website [2]www.ico.org.uk
 
Kind Regards,
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [3][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
_____________________________________________
From: Isabelle Alan [[4]mailto:[FOI #490319 email]]
Sent: 09 June 2018 10:00
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Misrepresenting Council
Tax/Business rates (NNDR) court costs to act as deterrent/penalty
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
In reference to paragraphs 18-20 of ANNEX A of the below document:
 
[5]http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...
 
Paragraph 19 states:
 
' Following the trend of other councils by charging more in respect of
Business Rates [court costs], it was forecast that charging three times
more for what had been identical costs would also improve cash flow with
the overall effects of the review potentially generating additional income
of £38k per annum. North East Lincolnshire Council’s report of the
Director of Finance to the Cabinet Committee (Review of Recovery Costs 6
April 2001), details at paragraphs 4, 5 and 6, the relevant matter, as
follows:
 
"4. The proposal would be to increase by £2.50 to £35, the amount charged
for a Liability Order for Council Tax debts. However, with regard to
Non-Domestic Rates, the Summons cost would rise from £10 to £30 in
addition to the £2.50 extra for a Liability Order.
 
5. The decision to charge more in respect of Non-Domestic Rates is one
which other local authorities are taking in increasing numbers. (There are
two in this region currently, Bradford and Sheffield.) The reasoning
behind this is that it is believed that some businesses deliberately delay
payment of Rates as the penalty for late payment is so small in comparison
to the amount that might be owed. The extra cost is seen as a way of
encouraging prompt payment.
 
6. If the proposal is accepted, then based on the number of Summonses
issued and Liability Orders obtained in the current year, an extra £38,000
of additional cost income would be generated bringing the total to
approximately £390,000.” '
 
Sheffield City Council increased Business Rates court costs
disproportionately (see para 5 above) to Council Tax court costs which
involve an identical process, in order to act as a deterrent against late
payment and would no doubt have generated additional revenue. This
evidently artificially inflates court costs and is also acts as a
deterrent/penalty which the law does not permit. The law requires that the
costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See
paragraphs 35 and 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham
Magistrates [2015])
[6]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 (presumably Monitoring officer) in
overseeing the manipulation of court costs for obtaining liability orders
for encouraging behaviour and to generate additional revenue.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Isabelle Alan
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[7][FOI #490319 email]
 
Is [8][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
form:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[10]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[11]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
 
Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

Isabelle Alan (Account suspended)

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your response, however, it does not deal with my request.

My records show that the court costs charged to Sheffield City Council Tax and Business rates payers (NNDR) in 2012/13 were £78.00 and £92.00 respectively.

My request was for disclosure of details held by the Council relating to the relevant legal officer's involvement (presumably Monitoring officer) in overseeing the manipulation of court costs (£78.00 CT/£92.00 NNDR) for obtaining liability orders for encouraging behaviour and generating additional revenue.

Yours sincerely,

Isabelle Alan

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Ms Alan,

Further to your email. I reiterate the Council's previous response: "In regard to your request we can confirm that our records show that court costs in respect of Non-Domestic Rates were last increased in 2012/13. The costs increased by 5% which was the RPI rate of inflation confirmed in December 2011."

This identified that the cost increase was linked to a RPI as an appropriate measure for increasing costs and was not a manipulation and therefore further records would not be held in this regard.

Kind regards

Mark

Mark Knight
Information Management Officer
Business Change and Information Solutions (BCIS)
Resources Portfolio, Sheffield City Council
Email: [email address]
Postal Address: Sheffield City Council, PO Box 1283, Sheffield S1 1UJ

show quoted sections

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Isabelle Alan (Account suspended) please sign in and let everyone know.

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