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Hi,

 

I have a problem re Council tax.

 

Council say they didnt get my form in April 2012 and are only giving me CTB from Dec 2012 when it was re submitted.

 

I was on Income Support in April 2012 and migrated to ESA in Nov 2012.

 

The council got a liability order and a bailiff has called twice now even though I am appealing the decision not to backdate CTB.

 

They are not even giving me the single person discount for the April to November.

 

Is it right to send bailiffs in when I am appealing ?

 

Do I have to pay the bailiff's fees. I'd be grateful for advice.

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Complaint to Head Of Recenues CEO of Council and MP, get your MP involved, along with any advice organisations, CAB are variable in their quality, but may be worth a punt, A welfare Rights advisor also if the council has one, as they can be persuasive. What council is this and what bailiff company? I ask this because some councils have outsourced their revenue office function to a comany named Capita who own 2 bailiff companies Equita and Ross & Roberts. Where Capita infest a council, when you phone the council you get Capita, who will not necessarily work in the interests of you or the council.

 

By the way, ordinarily when you claim a DWP benefit, their form covers you, and they notify the Housing benefit section of the LA, you then get a letter from the council telling you of your entitlement. Other Caggers will be along sioon.


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About 20 years ago when council tax was relatively new, I completed a countil tax benefit application form for my sister who was struggling at the time, but the council did not receive the form and carried on charging, and later enforced council tax on her.

 

Fortunately I had made a file copy of her application form and I sent it to the council and the claim was backdated.

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Hi Brassnecked,

The Bailiff's are based in the civic offices and the letters that were put through the door are on Portsmouth City Council headed paper. I did notice that there was'nt a PCC phone number just a handwritten mobile no. Also when I phoned the council in early Oct 20 I asked the lady "Would it be better for me to do this through the DWP"? (because I was aware that I was on a passport benefit, Income Support with a disability premium.) and she replied words to the effect "Oh no that would just complicate it." In addition , I do think I have reasonable grounds for not dealing with the situation earlier. - I had only just moved back into the flat because my brother ( with whom I lived) died very suddenly in May 2011 and I moved in with my sister because I just couldn't bear to be in the flat alone. I have also been diagnosed with diabetes and COPD and suffer from anxiety and depression. Life has been more difficult than usual for the the last year or so and it just feels that they are being vindictive, particularly with the denial of single person discount for the period April - Nov. It's like rubbing salt into the wound of a bereavment.

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The council seam to make there own rules up,refusing to backdate any claim and you will now have to deal with the bailiffs are there favorite sayings

 

I expect the liability order will have the wrong amount on it as you are now claiming and council would of got the order for the full years council tax

Put everything in writing to the council

 

Regarding the bailiffs do not let them in there is no right of entry no locksmith no nothing

Deal with the council and not the bailiffs

 

It may be the case that bailiff action should not be happening if you fall into vulnerable category

 

What action has happened with the bailiffs have they ever been in your home do they have a levy?


If i have helped in any way hit my star.

any advice given is based on experience and learnt from this site :-)

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Which bailiff company is it?


Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

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Hi Brassnecked,

 

Further to my earlier reply (bailiffs are based in the council offices). I have just searched PCC website for Bailiff's services and come up with nil!! What does this mean ? I also notice that there is no email address and the style seems to be slightly different from other PCC correspondence.

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If this is any help, Cipfa Revenue Statistics for 2011-12 discloses that in-house bailiffs are used by PCC, in addition to Ross & Roberts and Rossendales.

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Have a read of this !! "Recovery Action and the outstanding Council Tax Benefit claim"

 

Then this:

 

Whether or not a liability order could be issued while a benefit claim was outstanding was tested in the High Court in the case of Regina v Bristol Magistrates' Court, Ex Parte Willsman and Another [1991]. While this case refers to unpaid community charge the principles remain valid. In this case the High Court considered that it was reasonable for a liability order to be granted although the defendants had a valid claim for benefit outstanding.

 

Subject to an application by the billing authority, a liability order can be issued for the costs only where payment of the council tax has been made after the summons was issued but before the liability order has been made by the court.

 

Source: CIPFA's Guide to the Council Tax

 

 

 

And this:

 

Regulation 36A

 

Under Regulation 36A which was inserted by S.I. 927/2004 and came into force on 22 April 2004, a billing authority may apply to the magistrates to quash a liability order, and/or substitute another for a lesser amount.

 

The issue of the magistrates’ power to quash a liability order has been raised several times recently, firstly in the case of Liverpool CC v Pleroma Distribution Ltd 2002 EWHC 2467 (Admin) [2002], in which a liability order was granted by magistrates while they were not aware that a letter seeking an adjournment had been received.

 

On discovering the existence of the letter, the magistrates decided to withdraw the liability order even though they had no specific power to do so. Liverpool appealed.

 

It was held that the magistrates have the power under common law to reopen a case where they have made a decision in ignorance of facts that would have affected their judgment, had they known about them.

 

Source: CIPFA's Guide to the Council Tax

 

 

If anyone's interested; in the House of Lords on 28 January 1992 there was a failed attempt to introduce an amendment (No. 164) to the Local Government Finance Bill, to the effect:

"
No enforcement order shall be made to recover any sum under this Act unless the court is satisfied that the authority has correctly determined whether there is an outstanding claim for council tax benefit in respect of that sum
."

 

To pinpoint the relevant parts search the term "Amendment No. 164"

 

 

NOTE:

 

If above link doesn't work for:

 

"Liverpool CC v Pleroma Distribution Ltd 2002 EWHC 2467 (Admin) [2002]"

 

simply replace lowercase 'a' in the address line to capital 'A' in the word "Admin".

Edited by outlawla

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Quite a few LGO decisions have found against local authorities that pursue recovery action while council tax benefit claims are ongoing.

 

This seems quite relevant: H2: Council tax benefit Report – Ref: 03/B/12862

 

 

The Ombudsman said:

 

I do not consider such action is necessary, fair or reasonable in every case. The council should take into account the circumstances of the individual before taking such action. In my view a council should not seek a liability order while a claim for council tax benefit is outstanding, and where the reason for delay in assessing it is not attributable to the claimant.

 

 

Another example; costs and court action withdrawn, and paid £500 compensation

 

Mr and Mrs M are housing association tenants claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit. Mr M is seriously ill and his wife is his full-time carer. The council took over six months to re-assess their claim after they reported a change of circumstances. During that time their council tax debt built up. At first the council held back from taking action against them, but then, without checking whether the claim had been decided, the council referred the case to court. When they received the summons Mr and Mrs M went to an advice agency which made a complaint on their behalf. But the council ignored it and went ahead with the court action. Mr and Mrs M received a liability order and then a letter from the bailiffs. They also had a letter from their landlord about rent arrears. After the advice agency complained to us, the council decided the claim, paid the benefit, withdrew the court action and costs, and paid £500 compensation. We also asked the council to review its procedures to make sure it had proper systems in place for suspending council tax recovery action while a benefit claim is being processed, and for identifying complaints.

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Good work outlawla


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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If possible, it would be handy to get hold of the full LGO report (03/B/12862), though another reference to the case is worth reading here: Wise to the Council

 

I suggest submitting a formal complaint about this and request the authority apply to the magistrates to quash the liability order under Regulation 36A – Ref: S.I. 2004/927, quoting the LGO reports linked to in the previous post.

 

Possibly pointing out the reason why Lord Henley – then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the DSS – blocked an amendment to the 1992 Local Government Finance Act, which seeked to prevent a liability order being issued unless the court was satisfied that the authority had correctly determined whether there was an outstanding claim for council tax benefit.

 

Clearly the exclusion of the amendment was not for the purpose of giving local authorities the green light to process 'en masse' such cases through the court, but allow councils discretion and filter-out vexatious claimants.

 

Lord Henley HL Deb 28 January 1992 vol 534 cc1203-44 (1227)

 

Although I can appreciate and sympathise with the reason why the amendment was tabled, I can see no reason for changing that position for the council tax. If such a change was made, I am afraid it would leave the way open for taxpayers to avoid or delay their liability to pay the council tax by making bogus claims for benefit and causing those claims to be delayed by failing to provide the correct information. Most authorities will continue to act reasonably if approached by someone with an outstanding benefit claim and would not continue their recovery process until the claim was settled. That is the advice which has been given in a practice note issued by the Department of the Environment to all authorities on enforcement of the community charge and will be reiterated in guidance on enforcement of the council tax.

 

 

The guidance referred to is likely to be the Council Tax Practice Note No. 9, at paragraph 3.11:

 

3.11 A liability order may be made notwithstanding that the taxpayer is disputing the amount of council tax benefit which has been awarded or the fact that council tax benefit has been disallowed. The billing authority should, however, as a matter of best practice check that there is no outstanding benefit claim and refrain from taking enforcement action where such bona fide benefit claims have been received and are unresolved....

 

 

Just to throw in a little extra ammunition, it might be worth highlighting the exact wording of Regulation 34(1), meaning the billing authority has discretion as to whether it applies to the court, so is not required to by law:

 

Application for liability order

 

34.—(1) If an amount which has fallen due under regulation 23(3) or (4) is wholly or partly unpaid, or (in a case where a final notice is required under regulation 33) the amount stated in the final notice is wholly or partly unpaid at the expiry of the period of 7 days beginning with the day on which the notice was issued, the billing authority may, in accordance with paragraph (2), apply to a magistrates' court for an order against the person by whom it is payable.

Edited by outlawla

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]Hi, I'd like to thank everyone who gave me advice regarding my problems with CT. I followed the suggestions and copied the letter of complaint to the CEO of Portsmouth City Council and Mike Hancock my local M.P.

 

I received a standard response from the Complaints Desk - not even sure that he actually read it, but I had a really nice letter from Mike Hancock last week enclosing a copy of the letter he sent to The CEO, and today I had a letter from PCC saying my request for backdating had been successful!

 

Obviously I don't know what will happen regarding the Bailiff fees. Does this mean the liability order is quashed ?

 

I'm so grateful for the support and advice I have been given on this site. I can't make a donation today but I will definitely do so on Friday when I get my benefit.

 

[/font]

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I'm pleased you have the result you were looking for. I imagine the account will have been returned by the Bailiffs therefore expunging all fees.


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If the baliff fees relates to a liability order which they will do, then it is up to PCC to tell the bailiff that the LO no longer applies and therefore there are no fees due to them. The contract between the bailiffs and PCC, will allow for the fact that there will be cases such as this. Win some and lose some. Suggest that you make sure PCC advise the bailff what the score is now and that the bailiff will no longer be pursuing the account.


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...Obviously I don't know what will happen regarding the Bailiff fees. Does this mean the liability order is quashed ?

 

Quashing the liability order may involve a hearing at the Magistrates' court. I think it best to enquire with the council and get written confirmation.

 

Another possibility is the council may decide not to enforce the liability order but not apply to the court to have it quashed. I'm unsure how this has been left.

Edited by outlawla

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Quashing the liability order may involve a hearing at the Magistrates' court. I think it best to enquire with the council and get written confirmation.

 

Another possibility is the council may decide not to enforce the liability order but not apply to the court to have it quashed. I'm unsure how this has been left.

 

Remember the record of this does not seem to lie anywhere so doesn't appear on credit files & doesn't show as a criminal record. Rather than go through any due process I would hazard a gues it will be "forgotten" about.


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Remember the record of this does not seem to lie anywhere so doesn't appear on credit files & doesn't show as a criminal record. Rather than go through any due process I would hazard a gues it will be "forgotten" about.

 

Yes! All very dubious, which makes you wonder when they do quash a liability order is it just an elaborate charade?

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]Hi all,

 

I've just had another letter from PCC (Portsmouth City Council). It seems I spoke too soon. They say they can only backdate CTB until June 2012 and they have sent me a bill for £352.96 for April and May 2012 which includes £122.50 costs. I assume that this is made up of bailiffs fees and court costs. Surely the fact that they backdated the CTB would mean that the original basis of the liability order was incorrect ?

 

Also they admit that they were wrong to use the bailiffs in February - does this mean that I can take the case to the Local Government Ombudsman and claim compensation ?

 

The tone of the letter is very sceptical regarding the fact that I submitted the original form in time in April 2012. They say "You claim that the form was lost but we can find no indication of this"

 

How can I prove that the form was lost ? Isn't it the nature of things that are lost that they can't be found ?:|

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How can I prove that the form was lost ? Isn't it the nature of things that are lost that they can't be found ?neutral.gif
Very Zen, I love it.

 

The proof that the form was lost, (by them), is the fact that they deny having received it.


Illegitimi non carborundum

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Very Zen, I love it.

 

The proof that the form was lost, (by them), is the fact that they deny having received it.

Exactly, remind them that the LGO looks very unkindly on lost forms, and procrastination, then bullying to make people pay up who should not have to which adds up to Maladministration.


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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........and they have sent me a bill for £352.96 for April and May 2012 which includes £122.50 costs. I assume that this is made up of bailiffs fees and court costs. Surely the fact that they backdated the CTB would mean that the original basis of the liability order was incorrect ?......

 

If court costs haven't been reviewed since obtaining this data, they should be £73 (one order) made up of £68 summons and £5 liability order.

 

See if you can use this on Portsmouth City Council's website:

 

Charges associated with issuing summons and liability order....

 

Despite vigorous checks there are occasions when recent payments have not been credited correctly or other exceptional circumstances where it is possible that a summons and liability order and the associated costs can be withdrawn. However the normal situation is that if correctly issued - summons costs cannot be removed – even when at a later date the original council tax has been paid.

 

 

You might not want to get involved to this degree but Portsmouth City Council (in the same link) admit inappropriate charges are imposed for the summons in their Administration(mal) of Council Tax:

 

Some of the elements included when establishing the costs are:- postage, printing charges, computer time, staff time and staff time involved in the follow up after summonses are issued.

 

 

The relevant regulations only allow for costs incurred up to the summons not after summonses are issued.

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It begs the question, if the whole gaining of LO in the face of a housing benefit entitlement and an application messed up by the council caused the arrears, should they be allowed to recoup any fees from a vulnerable debtor?


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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It begs the question, if the whole gaining of LO in the face of a housing benefit entitlement and an application messed up by the council caused the arrears, should they be allowed to recoup any fees from a vulnerable debtor?

 

If investigate, judging from published cases, I think the LGO would find the reasonableness of their actions in question.

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I don't think I posted this yet from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy's website......might be useful:

 

......Similarly, the existence of an outstanding or disputed claim for council tax benefit is not a valid defence against the issue of a liability order, but an authority would not normally proceed while a benefit claim was unresolved, unless it was made after the issue of the summons (R v Bristol City Magistrates Court and Bristol City Council ex parte Willsman and Young 1991).

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