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Evening all,

 

I'm helping a friend out with a Council Tax bill which was overlooked after a misunderstanding with the paperwork.

 

When they contacted the council to set up a direct debit they were advised they were £96.00 behind on payments so made this payment in full there and then on the phone. That was the end of the issue so they thought.

 

However they were not advised of an underpayment of a bill in the period of 2014 - 2015 which was left outstanding and as such not aware of. In the phone call and a reminder letter they received they were not told about the overdue CT of £117.09

 

Needless to say I was woken up this morning to my friend in complete panic about the Bailiffs and have drafted some letters and come up with a repayment plan for their arrears and CT for the remainder of the financial year.

 

Having looked at the payments they [the council] were requesting over 10 months 2015 - 2016. I have managed to devise settlement of the arrears and current tax years bill over the remaining 9 months of the financial year. This is roughly the same amount if they paid over 10 months without arrears.

 

So the following letter went to the Council

 

Dear Sirs,

 

I write to you today regarding an outstanding liability order for council tax owed from [redacted]/2014 - [redacted]/2015. This has occurred as a genuine oversight after I was not advised of an outstanding amount in a recent letter from you dated [redacted] so I was not aware of any outstanding amount to the best of my knowledge at the time.

 

Payment was made to you for £96.00 for this amount, had I been aware of the outstanding balance at the time from the 2014 - 2015 bill I would have made arrangement to clear the arrears there and then. So to subsequently receive a liability order and letter from a Bailiff Company is most disappointing and extremely distressing.

 

Nevertheless I wish to settle this amount with the Council directly. I will not be dealing with any third parties regarding this debt including, but not limited to, Bailiffs. My debt is with [redacted] Council so I only wish to deal with you directly.

 

As you are aware, I am classed as having a low income as I am in receipt of Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit. So asking me to make payment of £262.09 in full with the possibility additional further fees is both draconian and unacceptable. As such I have devised a repayment plan that is suited to my financial and personal circumstances which I will explain below.

 

My current outstanding balance of Council Tax for 2015 - 2016 is £336.00

 

I plan to repay this monthly by £37.00 per month on the 1st of each month via Standing Order. I have made a payment via automated phone today for the 2014 - 2015 Bill of £9.09 which was accepted. A further payment of £3.00 has been made for the 2015-2016 bill using the same method.

 

The payment reference details are as follows:

 

2014 - 2015 Bill: [redacted]

2015 - 2016 Bill: [redacted]

 

I take this to mean your acceptance of the agreement to the payment plan. It also suits my personal circumstances and is an amount I can easily afford.

 

I will be making a further payment of £12.00 per month on the 1st of each month to cover the arrears of £108.00

 

I have removed the Court Summons Fee and Bailiff Compliance Fee as I do not believe these charges represent a proportional amount for costs incurred to [redacted] Council or Ross and Roberts Enforcement Division. I will absolutely consider payment of these charges. However I need a breakdown of these 2 charges and demonstration that [redacted] Council have directly incurred these costs as a result of my actions and genuine oversight.

 

I have provided a table of repayment dates and amounts below:

 

Council Tax Bill: Date: Amount:

 

2015 - 2016 Bill 25/06/2015 £3.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 25/06/2015 £9.09

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/07/2015 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/07/2015 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/08/2015 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/08/2015 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/09/2015 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/09/2015 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/10/2015 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/10/2015 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/11/2015 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/11/2015 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/12/2015 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/12/2015 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/01/2016 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/01/2016 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/02/2016 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/02/2016 £12.00

2015 - 2016 Bill 01/03/2016 £37.00

2014 - 2015 Bill 01/03/2016 £12.00

 

I trust that this is a suitable method of repayment and I hope you accept that this was a genuine error and oversight. I look forward to receiving acceptance of this payment plan and that the account has been recalled from the bailiffs. I also look forward to receiving a breakdown of the court summons fee and bailiff compliance fee.

 

I have already arranged the standing order with my bank and cancelled my Direct Debit instructions. So please update my account with this new payment arrangement and subject to such I will consider the matter to have an arrangement in place to resolution.

 

I wish to thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you within the next 7 days.

 

This was sent by Fax. A copy was sent to Ross and Robbers for their records. The same day the below Fax went to Ross and Roberts directly:

 

I write to you today to revise the above account assigned to yourselves is disputed.

 

On 25/06/2015 I contacted Mendip District Council by Fax to explain about a misunderstanding with my account bills and how I was unaware of an outstanding balance. A copy is included with this fax for your convenience.

 

I therefore require you cease any and all recovery action on this account until your clients have responded to letter. I have requested and expect a response from them within 7 Calendar Days.

 

To demonstrate willingness to resolve the matter, I made a token payment today directly to the council in line with my repayment schedule. As they [ [redacted] ] accepted these payments of £9.09 and £3.00 - I deem them to have accepted the payment arrangement.

 

Should Ross and Roberts continue enforcement action after this notification that a dispute is in place. This will be reported to Law Enforcement and any other regulatory body such as the Local Authority Ombudsman that I deem appropriate.

 

As you are now aware that a valid dispute is in place and also have proof that a payment plan is in place (attached fax with payment reference numbers) I trust that you will close the file on your systems, return the file to [redacted] Council and that we will not be corresponding further. I will accept correspondence that you have closed the file on your systems however.

 

I wish to thank you for your time today and look forward to hearing that my account file has been returned and the matter with yourselves subsequently closed.

 

Sent the same day by Fax also.

 

I'm not sure we'll get anywhere with the 2x Fees that are in question. But both as we all know here a grossly disproportionate to the costs incurred to the Council. I wrote this with a recent judgement in mind that a summons fee of £70 was considered unreasonable. Sure I read that in the news letter from CAG some time recently.

 

Also an additional £75 Bailiff Compliance fee for sending 1 letter second class post is ridiculous and shameful.

 

Oh and lets not talk about the local council outsourcing operations to Capita......... Hmmm... :mad2:

 

Other than the above is there anything else they [my friend] should be doing? Or is there anything I've overlooked here?

 

Many thanks :-)

 

Shark xx

Edited by nuclearshark
Clarified that a copy of letter to Council went to the Bailiffs also

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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I'm afraid your friend will still owe the council tax as the bailiffs compliance fee will be paid first. The council will pay the money to the bailiff.

The bailiff may also visit adding another £235 to the bill.

You may be lucky and you may avoid the bailiffs visiting by offering this arrangement, but like I said, the compliance fee will be paid.

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I'm not sure we'll get anywhere with the 2x Fees that are in question. But both as we all know here a grossly disproportionate to the costs incurred to the Council.

 

Also an additional £75 Bailiff Compliance fee for sending 1 letter second class post is ridiculous and shameful.

 

 

The fees are contained in statutory legislation and therefore the argument about them being disproportionate to the costs incurred to the Council will not sway Ross & Roberts or the council.

 

There is a huge amount of misunderstanding about the £75 Compliance Fee and it is certainly NOT just for 'sending a letter'. In setting the fee scale, the Ministry of Justice had a contract with an Economist and the fee was set to cover the cost of:

 

Setting up an account for the debtor.

 

Sending a Notice of Enforcement (including postage)

 

Call centre costs to deal with enquiries from the debtor.

 

Setting up payment arrangements

 

Dealing with correspondence from the debtor.

 

Setting up (including staff training) specialist Welfare Depts to deal with 'vulnerable' debtors'

 

Outbound text messaging service.

 

Monitoring payment arrangements.

 

Forwarding payments to the local authorities/Magistrate Courts etc

 

Etc, etc

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I'm not sure we'll get anywhere with the 2x Fees that are in question.

 

The new(ish) regulations have been in place since April 2014 and many local authorities struggled to not only understand the many changes...but most importantly, to make the necessary computer changes to deal with the 'pro rata' distribution of payments. What is meant by this is that the regulations state that from any payment made, the Compliance Fee of £75 will be deducted first. The balance is then split on a 'pro rata' basis with approx 60% of the payment being allocated towards reducing the amount of the Liability Order and the balance (of 40%) being allocated towards reducing any bailiff fees.

 

The up to date position is that the majority of local authorities now understand how the payment allocation should be split and either pass direct payments to the enforcement company or account for the payment in other ways.

 

The bottom line is that once a debt has been passed to an enforcement company, it is more difficult than ever to try to evade paying the enforcement fee by paying the council direct.

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When they contacted the council to set up a direct debit they were advised they were £96.00 behind on payments so made this payment in full there and then on the phone. That was the end of the issue so they thought.

 

However they were not advised of an underpayment of a bill in the period of 2014 - 2015 which was left outstanding and as such not aware of. In the phone call and a reminder letter they received they were not told about the overdue CT of £117.09

 

Something does not seem quite right here.

 

Clearly when reading all your initial post the local authority have obtained a Liability Order against your friend.

 

He should have received two letters to advise that he had defaulted on his council tax.

 

He should have received a summons notifying him of a court date for an application for a Liability Order.

 

He possibly was sent (the regulations no longer make it a requirement) a letter by the council to advise that the Liability Order had been granted.

 

He should have received a Notice of Enforcement from the bailiff company.

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Wonder if this council is suffering from a Capita infestation, seeing as the bailiff EA is Ross 'n Robbers. If it is a Capita council and there has been a deficit in the required paperwork, as in no notices or summons; then a Formal Complaint to CEO and local elected member is an option, copied to MP also.

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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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The fees are contained in statutory legislation and therefore the argument about them being disproportionate to the costs incurred to the Council will not sway Ross & Roberts or the council.

 

There is a huge amount of misunderstanding about the £75 Compliance Fee and it is certainly NOT just for 'sending a letter'. In setting the fee scale, the Ministry of Justice had a contract with an Economist and the fee was set to cover the cost of:

 

Setting up an account for the debtor.

 

Sending a Notice of Enforcement (including postage)

 

Call centre costs to deal with enquiries from the debtor.

 

Setting up payment arrangements

 

Dealing with correspondence from the debtor.

 

Setting up (including staff training) specialist Welfare Depts to deal with 'vulnerable' debtors'

 

Outbound text messaging service.

 

Monitoring payment arrangements.

 

Forwarding payments to the local authorities/Magistrate Courts etc

 

Etc, etc

 

That sounds remarkbly like the defence the Banks used for their infamous Penalty Charges.

Amazed there isn't a part of it for "shoe leather" which was famously on one of the big banks list of why a charge was £30.

[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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I'm afraid your friend will still owe the council tax as the bailiffs compliance fee will be paid first. The council will pay the money to the bailiff.

The bailiff may also visit adding another £235 to the bill.

You may be lucky and you may avoid the bailiffs visiting by offering this arrangement, but like I said, the compliance fee will be paid.

 

I believe payment was made to the council via automated telephone banking (and accepted) so if it is the customer's council tax account which the proceeds have been allocated, then the council would almost certainly be breaking the law if it diverted any in respect of bailiff fees, unless the customer expressly instructed the authority to do so.

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Many thanks for the answers here guys. I will answer your questions below:

 

I'm afraid your friend will still owe the council tax as the bailiffs compliance fee will be paid first. The council will pay the money to the bailiff.

 

I had a feeling this was going to be the case. However it was always worth a try.

 

The bailiff may also visit adding another £235 to the bill.

 

How can this be justified? Assuming she is not even in OR makes no contact with the bailiff? I do not have a TV License as I do not watch live broadcast TV. But I don't see myself getting hit with £235 Fees each time the TV License guy comes to the door. Even if he came with a Search Warrant I wouldn't get such a fee for the "privilege"

 

The fees are contained in statutory legislation and therefore the argument about them being disproportionate to the costs incurred to the Council will not sway Ross & Roberts or the council.

 

Again there was never no harm in trying and I stated in the original letter I wrote for my friend that these would be considered if they were justified. At the present time all we have PERSONALLY seen is a single letter received to her via Second Class Post. So £75.00 seems in my opinion very disproportionate. But nevertheless if this is the legislation then that's ok. However it seems to me there is more in "Fees" and "Costs" than the actual debt to begin with. Which in my view is being both greedy and irresponsible.

 

I am not for one moment condoning debt avoidance etc. But how does it help someone by making a debt over double the size with fees here there and everywhere?

 

There is a huge amount of misunderstanding about the £75 Compliance Fee and it is certainly NOT just for 'sending a letter'. In setting the fee scale, the Ministry of Justice had a contract with an Economist and the fee was set to cover the cost of:

 

Setting up an account for the debtor.

 

Sending a Notice of Enforcement (including postage)

 

Call centre costs to deal with enquiries from the debtor.

 

Setting up payment arrangements

 

Dealing with correspondence from the debtor.

 

Setting up (including staff training) specialist Welfare Depts to deal with 'vulnerable' debtors'

 

Outbound text messaging service.

 

Monitoring payment arrangements.

 

Forwarding payments to the local authorities/Magistrate Courts etc

 

Etc, etc

 

Most of those will be done by an automated computer system and the processing power/bandwidth used would cost pence. As an example, services like outbound text messaging are done in bulk so may even cost the Bailiffs nothing at all, as the charge will be the same no matter how many texts they send via an SMS Gateway.

 

However I see the point you are making here and I accept this is a set legislative charge.

 

Something does not seem quite right here.

 

Clearly when reading all your initial post the local authority have obtained a Liability Order against your friend.

 

This is correct. When she contacted the council she was advised there was an amount outstanding. However I personally believe a misunderstanding occurred between her and the council as she was behind on this tax year (now up to date) I think confusion occurred and the operator and my friend were on 2 different though trains

 

He should have received two letters to advise that he had defaulted on his council tax.

 

One was received, she contacted them and settled the amount immediately. However this was NOT the outstanding balance from the year 2014-2015

 

He should have received a summons notifying him of a court date for an application for a Liability Order.

 

Claims this was not received. Having reviewed all her paperwork I could not find any such document.

 

He possibly was sent (the regulations no longer make it a requirement) a letter by the council to advise that the Liability Order had been granted.

 

This was received

 

He should have received a Notice of Enforcement from the bailiff company.

 

This was also received**

 

** - She received this document. However their letter said they could save her £235 if a short term payment could be agreed. By short term when she phoned them they wanted £262.09 in full no monthly payment plan. She had that day 3p in her bank account. I actually gave her the £9.09 and £3.00 as I felt as a human and friend it was the right thing to do. I have had similar council problems myself through no fault of my own so I remember the stress the robbers and vultures cause!

 

So as the Bailiffs said no payment plan she contacted me and I drafted these documents.

 

She is in work so probably could not claim vulnerability grounds. However she does have pass suicide attempts which have resulted in Hospital Admissions and a medical diagnosis of severe anxiety...

 

Wonder if this council is suffering from a Capita infestation

 

You'd be correct in thinking that. Makes the fees seem even more disproportionate.........

 

That sounds remarkbly like the defence the Banks used for their infamous Penalty Charges.

 

Please see my comments further above. I am inclined to agree with you from a personal viewpoint. But if this is the legislation then not alot one can do themselves unless they want severe grief and months/years of stress trying to fight it!

 

I believe payment was made to the council via automated telephone banking (and accepted)

 

This is correct. 2 Separate payments both accepted with authorisation codes

 

so if it is the customer's council tax account which the proceeds have been allocated, then the council would almost certainly be breaking the law if it diverted any in respect of bailiff fees, unless the customer expressly instructed the authority to do so.

 

I hate to ask, but do you have a source for this or some legislation I should be looking at to consider using this against Crapita?

 

As I'm inclined to agree with you. Money paid to the council in terms of a Council Tax debt or liability should be used for that sole purpose only. Not for the Enforcement Teams to buy more donuts or for your Brown Garden Recycling Bin yearly fee (Our Council has this)

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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....I hate to ask, but do you have a source for this or some legislation I should be looking at to consider using this against Crapita?

 

It was held in the judgment in Peter v Anderson as follows:

"
A person who is indebted to another on two several accounts, may, on paying him money, ascribe it to which account he pleases.–and his election may either be expressed,-Or may be inferred from the circumstances of the transaction
.

It therefore seems that it would be unlawful if money paid to the local authority, with the intention of paying the council tax liability outstanding, is not allocated to that account but instead paid to the bailiff contractor. This would be an entirely different account to that which the debtor intended payment to be allocated.

 

One local authority has admitted that the bailiff fees are a separate account from the council tax liability:

"
Enforcement agent fees are due to the enforcement agent and not to the council. They will not show on an individual's council tax or non-domestic rate account as they do not form part of the amount due to the authority
.

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We have been over this in separate threads about fee distribution.

If the op was to make a payment onto the current years rates, then no, it couldn't be applied to the debt. But when paying the debt direct, it can be split to pay the bailiff and the debt. That's in the regulations and has been covered in, as I said, in other threads.

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Much though it pains me to say but Outlawla is wrong on this particular instance I feel.

The new Regulations are quite clear that when the bailiffs are called in and send off their letter £75 is due to them and must be paid first before any reduction can be made to one's Council debt. Indeed for the

Council not to remit the money to the bailiff company would mean that the Council were breaking the law!

 

If your Council use capita then you may be better writing again with a letter of complaint about not receiving the notification of last years debt nor the notification of an impending hearing in Court on the debt. But

address your complaint to the CEO this time to avoid the lesser human beings at capita.

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Much though it pains me to say but Outlawla is wrong on this particular instance I feel.

 

The new Regulations are quite clear that when the bailiffs are called in and send off their letter £75 is due to them and must be paid first before any reduction can be made to one's Council debt. Indeed for the

Council not to remit the money to the bailiff company would mean that the Council were breaking the law!

 

Nottingham City Council obviously has a Monitoring Officer that is fully conversant with the relevant laws.

 

Since the Taking Control of Goods (fees) Regulations 2014 were introduced monies paid to the Council are handed onto a bailiff in the following circumstances:

 

a) The payment fully settles the debt with the bailiff including their fees. In this case the value of the fees is passed to the bailiff;

 

b) The debtor clearly indicates that the payment is for the bailiff.

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The 2014 Regulations have no relevance whatsoever regarding payments if they're made to the council with the preference expressed by the debtor that payment is made against outstanding council tax.

 

This might not stop the bailiffs trying to control the debtor's goods (whilst there is outstanding council tax) but that is another matter.

 

Another!

 

Having put your further query to the relevant Officers, they have been able to provide the following response:

 

Payments are forwarded in instances where debts have been placed with enforcement agencies for collection or in accordance with the preference expressed by the council tax payer at the time the payment is made.

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No, it clearly states in the regs that payments must be paid over when the EA process has started. You are wrong outlawla.

Feel free to look for the thread where it has been discussed and settled already.

What you are quoting outlawla is just other snippets of other conversations.

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No, it clearly states in the regs that payments must be paid over when the EA process has started. You are wrong outlawla....

 

You don't even have to have any knowledge of bailiffs or the laws which govern them or the recovery of council tax. All you need is some common sense.

 

If you pay money to the authority in respect of outstanding council tax and the council deprive the public purse by paying it to a private contractor, it's going to end up with some highly remunerated officers becoming ex-officers.

 

Where would you draw the line? Would you expect the council to exploit your annual subscription for garden waste collections for example by diverting it to the bailiff?

 

It's no different, they couldn't do it.....they can only get away with so much.

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No, if you pay the council for your outstanding council tax arrears and that account is with an EA, then they will.pay to the ea.

 

If you phone and ask to pay off your current years council tax, then they must take that payment and pay off the current year and NOT apply it to the debt.

 

It really is quite simple.

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We have been over this in separate threads about fee distribution.

 

If the op was to make a payment onto the current years rates, then no, it couldn't be applied to the debt. But when paying the debt direct, it can be split to pay the bailiff and the debt. That's in the regulations and has been covered in, as I said, in other threads.

 

We have indeed been over this point (paying the council direct) many times and what is worse, is that over half of all local authorities have spent the best part of the past year answering endless Freedom of Information requests on this same subject from one or more of the following psuedonyms:

 

Approx half of all local authorities in England & Wales have received Freedom of Information requests regarding the way in which 'direct payments' made by debtors after bailiff enforcement is calculated.

 

Many of the requests are made by one more of the following pseudonyms:

 

Neil Gilliatt

 

Tom Bola

 

Rex Ole

 

Malcolm admin

 

Cyril Alfab

 

Becky Saunder

 

Dan Stevens

 

Enid Brighton

 

Arnold Layne

 

Lee Johnsone

 

Cherie Jerez

 

Hump Balustrade

 

R.Skinner

 

Emma Dale

 

Sacksen Molar

 

Enid Brighton

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Its having the front to say something, purely to suit their own agenda, that I struggle to comprehend, especially when what is being tried to achieve, is removing some of the available information necessary for someone faced with additional needless charges to make an informed decision about how to save that expense.

 

It's incredible that the same point argued prior to the latest legislation regarding direct payment to the authority which was discovered (too late) to be wrong is being reiterated. There has been apparently no embarrassment for misinforming debtors or concern that the misinformation could have caused some people many hundreds of avoidable pounds.

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