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The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996 for 2019

We're waiting for A. Harris to read recent responses and update the status.

Dear Maidstone Borough Council,

The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996 for 2019

Who do you contract out council tax billing, collection and enforcement to, please list all contractors the date and period of a contract ended in 2019.

The name of any contractor and the date and period of a contract started in 2019.

Yours faithfully,

A. Harris

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Dear A Harris

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

 

Ref: FOI 7829

 

Thank you for your request for information. We will have a response ready
for you within 20 working days of the date you made your request.

 

After considering your request, we may decide to refuse to supply the
information under a number of exemptions that exist in legislation. For
details of these exemptions, please visit the Information Commissioner’s
website:
[1]https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference above in any future communications.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Team

Policy and Information Team

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent

ME15 6JQ

t 01622 602640 w [2]www.maidstone.gov.uk

 

 

show quoted sections

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    FOI 7829 Response Council Tax Billing Collection and Enforcement Contractors.pdf

    232K Download View as HTML

Date: 01/03/2019

Ref: FOI 7829

 

 

Dear A. Harris,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

 

I am writing to confirm that the Council has now completed its search for
the information which you requested.

 

A copy of the information is enclosed.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference above in any future communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to request a review of our decision, please respond to
this email and I will pass it on to Mid Kent Legal Services to conduct a
review. Please ensure you outline your reasons for requesting a review.

 

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 the Council.  The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

FOI Team

Policy and Information

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House King Street, Maidstone, Kent

ME15 6JQ

t []01622 602640 w [1]www.maidstone.gov.uk

To access our digital services please visit www.maidstone.gov.uk/service
Sign up to receive your Council Tax bill by email http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/emailbilling

We understand the importance of ensuring that personal data, including sensitive personal data is always treated lawfully and appropriately and that the rights of individuals are upheld.

We are required to collect, use and hold personal data about individuals. Data is required for the purposes of carrying out our statutory obligations, delivering services and meeting the needs of individuals that we deal with. This includes current, past and prospective employees, service users, members of the public, Members of the Council, our business partners and other local authorities or public bodies.

To view our full statement to see how your data will be stored and processed please visit https://maidstone.gov.uk/dataprotection

This email is confidential. If you receive it by mistake, please advise the sender by email immediately.
Any unauthorised use of the message or attachments is prohibited. Unless stated otherwise, any opinions are personal and cannot be attributed to Maidstone Borough Council.
Unless a purchase order is attached this email is not a contract or an order.
It is your responsibility to carry out Virus checks before opening any attachments.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/

Dear Complaints & FOI (MBC),

Thank you for providing your contracted out bailiff companies and confirming that their contracts end on 15 May 2019. But this date conflicts with the start date they were contracted to your Revenues and Benefits department as having started on 3 February 2014 - 2 February 2019?

Yours sincerely,

A. Harris

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Dear A. Harris,

 

Thank you for your email regarding our response to FOI 7829.

 

I can assure you that the response we have provided includes the most up
to date information Maidstone Borough Council holds. I apologise if this
conflicts with information you have received from us in the past, it may
be the case that it has been updated or changed since you last contacted
us regarding the contracting out of tax billing, collection and
enforcement functions.

 

You still have the right to request a review of the response. If you are
unhappy with the outcome of the review, you may complain directly to the
Information Commissioners Office.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Complaints & FOI Team

Policy & Information Team

Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ

e [1][email address] w [2]www.maidstone.gov.uk

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Complaints & FOI (MBC),

I have also compared this request to a previous one and have noticed that you have left off J E Baring & Co that you left off previously by mistake and I had to eventually report Maidstone Borough Council to the Information Commissioners Office to obtain details relating to this contractor, is the council no longer using this company for enforcement?

If you have renewed your contract with this contractor please provide details

Yours sincerely,

A. Harris

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Dear A. Harris

Thank you for your email. The reason J E Baring & Co was not included in our response to FOI 7829 is that J E Baring & Co is a firm of solicitors who we use for bankruptcy proceedings, they are not enforcement agents.

Yours sincerely

Complaints & FOI Team
Policy & Information Team
Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
e [email address] w www.maidstone.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Complaints & FOI (MBC),

Sorry I am confused as to what you mean by 'they are not enforcement agents' when they do enforce council tax using bankruptcy proceedings on your behalf and the council contracts out your enforcement function under The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996, are JE Baring & Co not acting as your agents when you contract out this work to them?

Are bankruptcy proceedings not used for enforcement of council tax?

Because the council did include JE Baring & Co in their previous reply to my original FOI Request 5237 for enforcement proceedings information that I had to send to the ICO before I received the information.

Can you please also confirm the name of any contractor and the date and period of a contract started in 2019 because this part has also been missed out since 19 Feb 2019.

Yours sincerely,

A. Harris

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Dear A. Harris

J E Baring & Co are not enforcement agents.

Regarding your last question:

"Can you please also confirm the name of any contractor and the date and period of a contract started in 2019 because this part has also been missed out since 19 Feb 2019."

We need you to provide an FOI reference number before we can answer this.

Yours sincerely

Complaints & FOI Team
Policy & Information Team
Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
e [email address] w www.maidstone.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Complaints & FOI (MBC),

Thank you for confirming that J E Baring & Co are not enforcement agents but you have not answered the question as to why they are enforcing council tax using bankruptcy proceedings as a means of enforcement.Are J E Baring & Co not acting as your agents when you contract out this work to them?

Are bankruptcy proceedings not used for enforcement of council tax?

You have also not answered the question as to whether the council are still using this company for enforcement proceedings or not?

If J E Baring & Co are not used to enforce council tax what role do they play and why include this contractor in the previous FOIA request (sent to ICO) that you said was left off by mistake, if they do not carry out enforcement services on behalf of the council. Please include the name of the company the council are making payment to for this firm of solicitors for enforcement services and a breakdown of the actual services you are paying this contractor for?

Your reference FOI 7829 was allocated to this request on the 21 Feb 2019 after the request was put in on the 19 Feb 2019 when you were asked to provide 'The name of any contractor and the date and period of contract started in 2019'.

You have not answered this part and have only said that all council tax enforcement contracts ended in 15 May 2019, does this include the contract with J E Baring & Co?

Please do not delay providing all outstanding information to save having to report Maidstone Borough Council for a second time to the ICO because you should have provided all the information requested under the FOIA by law and now far in excess of the one month period after you received this FOI request.

Yours sincerely,

A. Harris

Dear Maidstone Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Maidstone Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996 for 2019

Maidstone Borough Council are refusing to provide full answers to the questions asked and have not provided the names of the current contractors and the start date and the period of contracts started in 2019.

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

Yours faithfully,

A. Harris

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Date: 16/09/2019
Ref: FOI 7829
 
 
Dear A. Harris
 
Thank you for your request for an internal review. I have passed this on
to Mid Kent Legal Services to review your request and the response. You
will receive a response within 20 working days.
 
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 the Council.  The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF. [1]https://ico.org.uk/
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Complaints & FOI Team
Policy & Information Team
Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
e [2][email address] w [3]www.maidstone.gov.uk
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Gary Rowland,

Dear Mr Harris

 

Review of FOI #7829

 

I have considered your request for review, dated 15 September 2019, of
your original request received 19 February 2019.

 

Your request for review stated:

 

I am writing to request an internal review of Maidstone Borough Council's
handling of my FOI request 'The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax
Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996 for 2019

 

Maidstone Borough Council are refusing to provide full answers to the
questions asked and have not provided the names of the current contractors
and the start date and the period of contracts started in 2019. 

 

Response

 

I have now had the opportunity to review the various correspondence
between you and the FOI team at Maidstone Borough Council.  Whilst I
uphold the Council’s responses, I have provided additional information
where I am able to .  For ease of reference I have set out below the
questions you have asked along with any responses in order to establish
what information you believe has yet to be provided.

 

1.    Your initial request asked the Council to confirm who council tax
billing, collection and enforcement was contracted out to along with the
date and period of contract.  The Council responded confirming that the
council tax billing and collection was not contracted out and that the
following enforcement agencies are used (with contracts ending on 15 May
2019):

 

·         Stanford & Green Civil Enforcement

·         Equita

·         Jacobs Enforcement

·         Dukes Bailiffs Ltd

·         Rundles

 

2.    You then queried the date provided however, the FOI team assured you
that you were provided with the most up to date information held.

 

3.    On 23 August 2019, you asked for confirmation as to why J E Baring &
Co had been omitted from the list provided and asked whether this company
were still being used for enforcement.  The Council confirmed on 28 August
2019 that the reason J E Baring & Co were omitted is due to the fact that
they are a firm of solicitors and not in fact enforcement agents.

 

4.    You then responded on 1 September 2019 with the following:

 

Sorry I am confused as to what you mean by 'they are not enforcement
agents' when they do enforce council tax using bankruptcy proceedings on
your behalf and the council contracts out your enforcement function  under
The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and
Enforcement Functions) Order 1996, are JE Baring & Co not acting as your
agents when you contract out this work to them?

 

Are bankruptcy proceedings not used for enforcement of council tax?

 

Because the council did include  JE Baring & Co in their previous reply to
my original FOI Request 5237 for enforcement proceedings information that
I had to send to the ICO before I received the information.

 

Can you please also confirm the name of any contractor and the date and
period of a contract started in 2019 because this part has also been
missed out since 19 Feb 2019.

 

The confusion here appears to be with the definition of “enforcement
agent”.  An enforcement agent (formally known as bailiffs) carry out the
practical aspect of enforcement.  J E Baring & Co are a firm of Solicitors
who carry out the legal aspect of the enforcement process and as such are
not defined as an enforcement agent.

 

In relation to your question regarding the names of any contractors, dates
and period of contracts started in 2019,  I can confirm that the panel of
enforcement agents is currently subject to a new tender exercise.  The
Council’s in-house team Mid Kent Enforcement Service are utilised in the
first instance.  I can also confirm that the services of J E Baring & Co
are still used by the Council for bankruptcy proceedings.

 

I trust that I have clarified the position.  Should you remain
dissatisfied you can appeal against the decision by contacting the
Information Commissioner, FOI Compliance Team (complaints), Wycliffe
House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Kind regards

 

 

Gary Rowland

Trainee Lawyer (GCILEx) - Corporate Governance

Mid Kent Legal Services | Maidstone, Swale and Tunbridge Wells Borough
Councils

Swale Borough Council, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10
3HT

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent
ME15 6JQ

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Town Hall, Civic Way, Tunbridge Wells,
TN1 1RS

Tel: (01622) 602276   Email: [1][email address]

[2]www.swale.gov.uk     
[3]www.maidstone.gov.uk       [4]www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk

 

The contents of this e-mail, together with any attachments, may be
confidential or subject to legal professional privilege.  It should not be
shared with anyone without first consulting Mid Kent Legal Services. 

If you are not the intended recipient, please do not forward this email or
the attachments to anybody.  Please notify the sender and delete all
copies of this email from your system.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.swale.gov.uk/
3. http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/
4. http://www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/

Dear Gary Rowland,

I am not confused as to the difference between a bailiff and a solicitor, as both appear to be enforcing council tax, just using different methods.

Unless the council are not using bankruptcy proceedings to enforce council tax by contracting out this work to your contractor a solicitor's company called J E Baring & Co under The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996?

If you are, then it makes perfect sense why this company was included in the list previously sent to the ICO because they would be acting as your agents and carrying out enforcement work on the council's behalf.

Please clarify and provide a breakdown of precisely what this legal work consists of and who is authorised to carry out each aspect and if an estimate is given or a fixed price for each part.

When will the new tenders be completed for the bailiff companies and what date did they put in their tenders.

Please provide details of Mid Kent Enforcement Services and if this is also a company and if it is limited or not and confirm their start date.

It is also presumed that J E Baring & Co contract did not end on the 15 May 2019 along with the other contracts and has been continued, please provide clarification.

Yours sincerely,

A. Harris

Gary Rowland,

Dear Mr Harris

 

I have forwarded your further questions to the FOI team in order for them
to log a separate request as my review of your initial request is now
complete.

 

You will receive confirmation that this has been logged.

 

Kind regards

 

Gary Rowland

Lawyer (GCILEx) - Corporate Governance

Mid Kent Legal Services | Maidstone, Swale and Tunbridge Wells Borough
Councils

Swale Borough Council, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10
3HT

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent
ME15 6JQ

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Town Hall, Civic Way, Tunbridge Wells,
TN1 1RS

Tel: (01622) 602276   Email: [1][email address]

[2]www.swale.gov.uk     
[3]www.maidstone.gov.uk       [4]www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk

 

The contents of this e-mail, together with any attachments, may be
confidential or subject to legal professional privilege.  It should not be
shared with anyone without first consulting Mid Kent Legal Services. 

If you are not the intended recipient, please do not forward this email or
the attachments to anybody.  Please notify the sender and delete all
copies of this email from your system.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.swale.gov.uk/
3. http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/
4. http://www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Date: 14/10/19

 

 

Dear A. Harris

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

 

Ref: FOI/791

 

Thank you for your request for information. We will have a response ready
for you within 20 working days of the date you made your request.

 

After considering your request, we may decide to refuse to supply the
information under a number of exemptions that exist in legislation. For
details of these exemptions, please visit the Information Commissioner’s
website:
[1]https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference above in any future communications.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Team

Policy and Information Team

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent

ME15 6JQ

t 01622 602640 w [2]www.maidstone.gov.uk

To access our digital services please visit www.maidstone.gov.uk/service
Sign up to receive your Council Tax bill by email http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/emailbilling

We understand the importance of ensuring that personal data, including sensitive personal data is always treated lawfully and appropriately and that the rights of individuals are upheld.

We are required to collect, use and hold personal data about individuals. Data is required for the purposes of carrying out our statutory obligations, delivering services and meeting the needs of individuals that we deal with. This includes current, past and prospective employees, service users, members of the public, Members of the Council, our business partners and other local authorities or public bodies.

To view our full statement to see how your data will be stored and processed please visit https://maidstone.gov.uk/dataprotection

This email is confidential. If you receive it by mistake, please advise the sender by email immediately.
Any unauthorised use of the message or attachments is prohibited. Unless stated otherwise, any opinions are personal and cannot be attributed to Maidstone Borough Council.
Unless a purchase order is attached this email is not a contract or an order.
It is your responsibility to carry out Virus checks before opening any attachments.

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...
2. http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/

Dear Gary Rowland Complaints & FOI (MBC),

Why are you treating this as a new request when you have not provided all the information or provided clarification of your internal review when it has been made clear that I do know the difference between a bailiff and solicitor agent that the council use to enforce council tax.

Are you refusing to provide clarificaction so that this outstanding request can be passed to the ICO straight away because the council's is continuing to fail to be transparent in its dealings and state who and how they are instructing their enforcement agents ?

Yours sincerely,

A. Harris

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

1 Attachment

Date: 24/10/2019

Ref: FOI/791

 

 

Dear A. Harris

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

 

I can advise that your email dated 13 October was logged as a new FOI
request because it contained new questions that did not form part of Mr
Rowland’s review. I am now writing to confirm that the Council has now
completed its search for the information which you requested.

 

A copy of the information is enclosed.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference above in any future communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to request a review of our decision, please respond to
this email and I will pass it on to Mid Kent Legal Services to conduct a
review. Please ensure you outline your reasons for requesting a review.

 

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 the Council.  The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

FOI Team

Policy and Information

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House King Street, Maidstone, Kent

ME15 6JQ

t []01622 602640 w [1]www.maidstone.gov.uk

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Complaints & FOI (MBC),

Why is Maidstone Borough Council still avoiding giving full and complete answers to these questions.

You were asked to clarify if the council are using bankruptcy proceedings to enforce payment of council tax and if this work is contracted out to external solicitors J E Baring & Co operating as a company under The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996, the council have skirted around answering who exactly they are instructing and how they are authorised to carry out these enforcement functions.

You have provided no section of this order that they are authorised to act under or proof that these functions are being authorised correctly and properly or evidence of a client care letter being required or produced as proof of their instruction.

Neither have the council provided a breakdown of precisely what this legal work consists of and who is authorised to carry out each aspect and if an estimate is given or a fixed price for each part.

MBC have only said that the company J E Baring and Co are authorised to carry out these legal functions and present a petition for a bankruptcy order. There are many steps that have been missed out as to what and who carries out which function and under which legal entity they are instructed to act for each function.

You have said that J E Baring and Co is not included in the tendering process because they are not a company is this correct, because it states J E Baring & Company on their website but they are called J E Baring Ltd (12146662 created on Companies House 8.8.2019 address 1st Floor 63-66 Hatton Garden, Holburn, London) but this does not appear on their website and neither does the (non-limited business 3483212) J E Baring & Co with only a Mr Allan Hooper listed as a manager ( this appears to have previously been changed from JE Baring & Co to J E Baring & Co and with Alan changed to Allan and the address is 63-66 Hatton Garden, Holburn, London) on Company Check , and unfortunately the council have still not stated who exactly they are instructing and paying or whether it is a company under The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billng, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996 and have not provided the names of any solicitors (or SRA ID numbers) they have instructed and for precisely what purpose they have been instructed and have only provided a trading name.

MBC have failed to provide any clarification as to whether external named solicitors are instructed under the above order or not and for what precise functions are they being paid and how and through which legal entity are they being paid for carrying out the council's legal work.For instance is serving a statutory demand and/or a bankruptcy petition being paid for as legal work, who is required to carry out this work which is not a reserved legal activity and who is instructed by MBC to carry out reserved legal activities, you have yet to provide a breakdown of these activities or costs.

MBC have not provided the exact date Mid Kent Enforcement Services was created in June 2016 and who authorised its creation, you have said it is not a company, so why are MBC using the same name as a limited company on Companies House, as a trading name. Is this limited company connected to the council or Mid Kent Revenues and Benefits Partnership or any other shared service or service created within or outside of MBC.

Mid Kent Enforcement Services Ltd 10847623 incorporated on 3 July 2017 registered office address 24 Downsview Chatham ME50AP

You have also said that new tenders for enforcement (bailiff) companies will be completed on 12.11.2019 but have not provided the names of theses companies or the date they put in their tenders in September 2019.

Yours sincerely,

A. Harris

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Date: 01/11/19
Ref: FOI/791
 
 
Dear A Harris
 
Thank you for your request for an internal review. I have passed this on
to Mid Kent Legal Services to review your request and the response. You
will receive a response within 20 working days.
 
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 the Council.  The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF. [1]https://ico.org.uk/
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Complaints & FOI Team
Policy & Information Team
Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
e [2][email address] w [3]www.maidstone.gov.uk
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Date: 05/11/19
Ref: FOI/791
 
 
Dear A Harris
 
Mid Kent Legal Services have asked me to request that you confirm in
writing that you would like them to conduct an internal review of FOI/791.
 
Please send this confirmation by return email.
 
Yours sincerely
 
FOI Team
Policy & Information Team
Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
e [1][email address] w [2]www.maidstone.gov.uk
 
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Complaints & FOI (MBC)
Sent: 01 November 2019 17:01
To: 'A. Harris' <[FOI #553875 email]>
Subject: FOI/791 internal review request
 
 
Date: 01/11/19
Ref: FOI/791
 
 
Dear A Harris
 
Thank you for your request for an internal review. I have passed this on
to Mid Kent Legal Services to review your request and the response. You
will receive a response within 20 working days.
 
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 the Council.  The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF. [3]https://ico.org.uk/
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Complaints & FOI Team
Policy & Information Team
Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
e [4][email address] w [5]www.maidstone.gov.uk
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Complaints & FOI (MBC), Maidstone Borough Council

Dear A. Harris

 

Review of FOI #791

 

I have considered your request for review, dated 25 October 2019, of your
original request received 13 October 2019.

 

Your request for review stated:

 

Why is Maidstone Borough Council still avoiding giving full and complete
answers to these questions.

 

You were asked to clarify if the council are using bankruptcy proceedings
to enforce payment of council tax and if this work is contracted out to
external  solicitors J E Baring & Co operating as a company under The
Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and
Enforcement Functions) Order 1996, the council have skirted around
answering who exactly they are instructing and how they are authorised to
carry out these enforcement functions.

 

You have provided no section of this order that they are authorised to act
under or proof that these functions are being authorised correctly and
properly or evidence o  a client care letter being required or produced as
proof of their instruction.

 

Neither have the council provided a breakdown of precisely what this legal
work consists of and who is authorised to carry out each aspect and if an
estimate is given or a fixed price for each part.

 

MBC have only said that the company J E Baring and Co are authorised to
carry out these legal functions and present a petition for a bankruptcy
order. There are many steps that have been missed out as to what and who
carries out which function and under which legal entity they are
instructed to act for each function.

 

You have said that J E Baring and Co is not included in the tendering
process because they are not a company is this correct, because it states
J E Baring  & Company on their website but they are called J E Baring Ltd
(12146662 created on Companies House 8.8.2019 address 1st Floor 63-66
Hatton Garden, Holburn, London) but this does not appear on their website
and neither does the (non-limited business 3483212) J E  Baring & Co with
only a Mr Allan Hooper listed as a manager ( this appears to have
previously been changed from JE Baring & Co  to J E Baring & Co and with
Alan changed to Allan and the  address is 63-66 Hatton Garden, Holburn,
London) on Company Check , and unfortunately the council have still not
stated who exactly they are instructing and paying or whether it is a
company under The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billng,
Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996 and have not provided the
names of any solicitors (or SRA ID numbers)  they have instructed and for
precisely what purpose they have been instructed and have only provided a
trading name.

 

MBC have failed to provide any clarification as to whether external named
solicitors are instructed under the above order or not and for what
precise functions are they being paid and how and through which legal
entity are they being paid for carrying  out the council's legal work.For
instance is serving a statutory demand and/or a bankruptcy petition being
paid for as legal work, who is required to carry out this work which is
not a reserved legal activity and who is instructed by MBC to carry out
reserved legal activities, you have yet to provide a breakdown of these
activities or costs.

 

MBC have not provided the exact date Mid Kent Enforcement Services was
created in June 2016 and who authorised its creation, you have said it is
not a company, so why are MBC using the same name as a limited company on
Companies House, as a trading name. Is this limited company connected to
the council or Mid Kent Revenues and Benefits Partnership  or any other
shared service or service created within or outside of MBC.

 

Mid Kent Enforcement Services Ltd 10847623 incorporated on 3 July 2017
registered office address 24 Downsview Chatham ME50AP

 

You have also said that new tenders for enforcement (bailiff) companies
will be completed on 12.11.2019 but have not provided the names of theses
companies or the date they put in their tenders in September 2019.

 

Your initial request asked for the following information:

 

Unless the council are not using bankruptcy proceedings to enforce council
tax by contracting out this work to your contractor a solicitor's company
called J E Baring & Co under The Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax
Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996?

 

If you are, then it makes perfect sense why this company was included in
the list previously sent to the ICO because they would be acting as your
agents and carrying out enforcement work on the council's behalf.

 

Please clarify and provide a breakdown of precisely what this legal work
consists of and who is authorised to carry out each aspect and if an
estimate is given or a fixed price for each part.

 

When will the new tenders be completed for the bailiff companies and what
date did they put in their tenders.

 

Please provide details of Mid Kent Enforcement Services and if this is
also a company and if it is limited or not and confirm their start date.

 

It is also presumed that J E Baring & Co contract did not end on the 15
May 2019 along with the other contracts and has been continued, please
provide clarification.

 

The Council issued the following response on 24 October 2019:

 

The bankruptcy proceedings are outsourced to J E Baring and Co who are
authorised to carry out the functions to presenting a petition for a
bankruptcy order.

 

The new tenders will be completed for the enforcement (bailiff) companies
on 12 November 2019. Tenders were put in during September.

 

Mid Kent Enforcement Services is not a company. It is part of a Shared
Service between 3 councils. The effective date was June 2016.

 

J E Baring and Co is not part of the enforcement company tender as they
are not enforcement agents.

 

Response

 

We believe that we are trying to be as helpful as possible in giving you
the information that you require.

 

We do instruct J E Baring & Co to carry out Bankruptcy Proceedings
authorised under the Regulations quoted, although it is hoped that any
such proceedings would be resolved without the need for a Bankruptcy Order
needing to be recorded.

 

J E Baring & Co are instructed generally to carry out Bankruptcy
Proceedings and there is no precise specification in relation to each
piece of work that they undertake, and the Council pays for the work that
Bankruptcy Proceedings generate.

 

The Council has previously explained that J E Baring and Co is not part of
the enforcement company tender as they are not enforcement agents. This is
correct. J E Baring & Co carry out the bankruptcy procedure under the
Insolvency legislation, and how they do this is entirely a matter for
them, although as previously stated it is always hoped that a Bankruptcy
Order can be avoided. We do not set a specification for each piece of
work. In addition, we believe that J E Baring & Co are not yet trading as
a limited company but may be proposing to do this and so that may be why
they are shown on Companies House website, although this is something you
would need to check with them.  At present we are instructing J E Baring &
Co as a partnership.

 

At present we are instructing J E Baring & Co (Partnership) generally
under the Insolvency legislation.  We do not understand what you mean by
“reserved legal activities”. 

 

Mid Kent Enforcement Service is an internal Enforcement Service whose
creation was authorised by Members of Maidstone, Swale and Tunbridge Wells
Borough Councils.  It is not a limited company and is not connected to the
company shown on Companies House.

 

The information you have requested in your last paragraph (relating to new
tenders for enforcement companies) cannot be given at this moment in time
as matters have not been finalised.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your review, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

Kind regards

 

Christine Nuttall | Senior Lawyer Corporate Governance (Locum) 

Mid Kent Legal Services | Maidstone, Swale and Tunbridge Wells Borough
Councils

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent
ME15 6JQ 

Swale Borough Council, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10
3HT

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Town Hall, Civic Way, Royal Tunbridge
Wells, TN1 1RS

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