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Hi all,

 

Below are Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests that I put forward to Birmingham City Council (BCC) regarding Capita's handling of Council Tax accounts for BCC.

 

1) In the Council Tax years 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, approximately what percentage of staff members employed by Capita compared with Birmingham City Council staff members dealt directly with Birmingham City Council Tax Accounts that had/have gone into arrears.

2) In the Council Tax years 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, how many Birmingham City Council Tax accounts that had gone into arrears resulted in a Liability Order (LO) been granted. Of these that had a LO granted how many were passed on to a Capita staff member(s) that had direct authority and/or input in contributing to the decision that lead to an LO been pursued.

3) Again, of these that had an LO granted how many accounts ended up been passed on to Equita Bailiffs for Council Tax recovery. Of these accounts how many were passed on as a result of a Capita staff member(s) having any direct input in the decision making process that eventually lead to the account been passed onto Equita Bailiffs.

4) Finally, of these accounts that ended up been passed on to Equita Bailiffs for Council Tax recovery. When the account was requested to be returned to Birmingham City Council, for whatever reason, how many were refused. Of those accounts that were refused, how many were dealt with by a Capita member(s) of staff which had any direct input in the decision making process that lead to the refusal of the account being returned back to Birmingham City Council.

 

This is the response I received from BCC. My interpretation of the response is somewhat vague and evasive but I would be very appreciative of anyone's comments. In-particular, I would like to create a response as it seems my first attempt was not 'CLEVER" enough and again would appreciate some help with this. see below for BCC's response.

[/b]

I am writing in respect of your recent enquiry for information under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

The majority of Birmingham citizens pay their Council Tax accounts in full and within the prescribed timescales. Birmingham City Council however is conscious of the need to protect the public purse so as not to place undue pressure on any of our citizens. We are also acutely aware of the competing priorities families are facing within this challenging period and therefore Revenue Officers are available to discuss various ways, means and amounts of Council Tax that can comfortably be credited to their accounts.

 

The billing and collection for Revenues is undertaken by Birmingham City Council employees and those employed at the Call Centre, managed by Service Birmingham (Capita).

 

It is not possible to provide details in respect of (1) as such statistics are not maintained. All that can be said is that all bills, reminders , final and summonses are issued with the Call Centre telephone number.

 

On the granting of a liability order a 14 day letter is issued advising that any failure to address the debt will lead to the account being issued to the City’s appointed bailiff. The process of referral is an automated one, with no staff being directly involved.

 

Further accounts may be ‘manually’ referred to the bailiff, due to defaulting on payment arrangements etc, but these are undertaken by BCC staff or a further automated process.

 

The numbers of liability orders granted in 2009/10 and 2010/11 (to date) are given below:

 

2009/10 - 83,581

 

2010/11 - 67,356

 

The number of accounts passed to the bailiff in 2009/10 and 2010/11 (to date) is shown below:

 

2009/10 - 67,275

 

2010/11 - 60,616

 

These accounts do not necessarily correlate to the liability orders granted, as some pay, make arrangements raise disputes and so forth before referral. Also other accounts may be sent as described earlier in this response.

 

The bailiff is instructed to act on behalf of the city. There are no instances where an instruction to return an account to the city can be refused by an officer of Capita.

 

If you are not satisfied with the response you may ask for an internal review. If subsequently you are not satisfied with the Council’s decision you may apply 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 following address:

The Information Commissioner

 

Cheers TT:-)

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Hi tomtom013

 

Just a few observations:

 

......I am writing in respect of your recent enquiry for information under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

The majority of Birmingham citizens pay their Council Tax accounts in full and within the prescribed timescales. They are using the term "majority" very loosely when you consider that they typically issue Summonses to around 30% of their Council Tax accounts each year (20% to the bailiffs). Birmingham City Council however is conscious of the need to protect the public purse so as not to place undue pressure on any of our citizens. They are playing residents off against each other to defend/justify their draconian enforcement methods. We are also acutely aware of the competing priorities families are facing within this challenging period and therefore Revenue Officers are available to discuss various ways, means and amounts of Council Tax that can comfortably be credited to their accounts. They are referring to Council Tax benefits; councils actively encourage resident to apply for C.T benefit, not because they want to be helpful but because it makes their life easier and it improves their performance i.e. C.T. collection rates.

 

On the granting of a liability order a 14 day letter is issued advising that any failure to address the debt will lead to the account being issued to the City’s appointed bailiff. The process of referral is an automated one, with no staff being directly involved. The automated process appears to be false economy. A machine can not detect things that a human can; for example a payment that is 1p short would be detected as unpaid by the automated system whereas you would hope a human would apply common sense and not initiate the bailiff action.

 

The numbers of liability orders granted in 2009/10 and 2010/11 (to date) are given below:

 

2009/10 - 83,581 Around 28% of accounts

 

2010/11 - 67,356 Around 22%

 

The number of accounts passed to the bailiff in 2009/10 and 2010/11 (to date) is shown below:

 

2009/10 - 67,275 Around 22% of accounts

 

2010/11 - 60,616 Around 20%

 

These accounts do not necessarily correlate to the liability orders granted, as some pay, make arrangements raise disputes and so forth before referral. Also other accounts may be sent as described earlier in this response. This file relates to 2007-08 council statistics (there is a column for LIABILITY ORDER GRANTED.) Copy of Print_082582009411627.xls

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[trying to be brief]

interesting xls document

 

however, this opinion is that council tax liability orders [CTLO]

number is some whacky multi-order cumulative

[those 20-30% numbers might require some 24hr drive-through court

with a number of octopoid magistrates rubber-stamping like crazy]

 

columns 22/23, linked to eligible households & net collectable tax

would seem to deliver a route to an

"order of magnitude", "fuzzy logic" esque idea of the kind of numbers your FOI

request seems after

headline figure - about 90% council tax is fuss free

specific figures Bham 07/8 94%ish [300,000 households], [bailiff seizure events 22]

[control group sunderlan+rotheram+wirral+harrow+hammersmith

07/8 , 96%ish, c.500,000 households, bailif seizure events 23]

 

so....?

well, no more than 4% bham [6% control group] LIKELY to be from CTLOs

then

it'd be a crazy old local authority who let the number of CTLOs in a year exceed massively the bailiff seizures for that year [ie context is 22]

[they are RIGHTLY cautious, & this would be a reasonable approach to not store up TOO MUCH mess they will have to sort out in the following years]

 

trying to answer your question

maybe rarely less than 2 CTLOs, rarely more than 15 per quarter

of bham [300,000 households]

 

your agenda is then [read between lines] that the scheme is NOT COST EFFECTIVE

[which of course it IS NOT]

 

say, a busy old time one year prompts a 2% increment in bham CT take

by means of CT liability orders

is that about £10 grand

[3% of control group £27grand]

[check these -working from memory,here]

 

if you could lose one staff member from bham local taxation services by ditching CTLOs wholesale, then that's the UNECONOMICALITY argument made, isn't it?

 

FIO request is fine tactic; obvious strategy is to aim at informing the local government bill, currently under deliberation someplace; the first policy batch is about "presumption of competence" & local gov tax seems a perfectly valid policy area for their consideration, and about a decade of CTLOs seems not unreasonable a moment to review & reform if necessary[ha!]

 

this opinion that CTLOs are INHERENTLY & FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED

[& intend to explain in detail in own thread in a few days]

[wrong root & branch; naturally uneconomic, & poor in most ways, as a natural consequence of this flawedness]

 

argument summary - the policy flaws naturally might be expected to lead to untoward consequences in practice, & almost a decade of such practice testing the model HAS NOT PROVIDED ANY LACK of untoward consequence

results which have been anecdotally sampled, repeatedly, in this subforum

 

courts do [& politicians ought] be aware that amongst our population many individuals run into a phase of their lives classable as "disparate" [so, less well-organised, a bit chaotic, things slip, "itinerant" if you will even][classic causes bereavement, jobloss, retirement, release from armed services, breakdown of long-term relationship, leaving care system etc etc]

these folk are temporarily disadvantaged by vulnerability

in 2 years or 5 they'll be fine; good neighbours, virtuous citizens, blameless bourgeouisie once more

they are not necessarily truly suitable candidates for £100s or £1000s of court-ordered personal liability (in the traditional pre-CTLO sense)- because of vulnerability -

 

of the CTLOs determined in absentia without notice of hearing ACTUALLY received by such individuals, in the practice of CTLOs since inception, what estimate might be made of how many might not have been determined to be liabilities, had the court got to hear representation from both parties [council & individual]?

 

[do bear in mind that actual pathological liars in the clinical sense are MASSIVELY rare; estimate 0.0001 -0.001% population might be TOO HIGH - & affluent ones even rarer]

 

will leave it here, pending conclusion essay on thebeyond thread

[WON!?cautiously, it seems not unlikely]

 

except

it is not unfair or unreasonable to judge local taxation service offices by the standard of the service they offer the 10% of households of the "bottom of the food chain"

-that they have "compliance test"ed their software for the benefit of the "happy majority" is not enough - it must be "destruction test"ed [to avoid inappropriate misery to the downtrodden marginalised minority]too! [by now their former software testers might be busy maximising the lethality of the new nhs IT system, y'know?]

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