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Council Tax -non migration of DD details


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Hello all

 

I am experiencing massive problems with City of Salford Council Tax.

The story so far:

2 years ago, after getting made redundant, I made arrangements to pay 100.00 per month off my council tax bill (I was in arrears) by direct debit.

 

However, in September, I recieved a letter from City of Salford stating that I had not been payoing my Council Tax bill and had now accrued more arrears amounting in an overall bill of 1900.00!! I was completely shocked as I thought I was paing by DD!

 

I then checked through all of my bank statements and realised that they had stopped tasking the direct debit for 1 year! I rang City of Salford offices straight away and was informed by a membr of staff that they "had not migrated my direct debit details to their new computer system"!

Admittedly I felt a bit stupid as I had not noticed this on any bank statements.

 

I was then advised by the member of staff to put my complaint in writing with an offer of how much I could pay. I did all of this, then a month later they wrote to me asking for Income & Expenditure details for their records so I could prove I could only afford 100.00 a month.

 

I responded straight away and sent the letter by recorded mail and up until today I heard nothing.

 

I recieved a letter this morning requesting 225.00 per month and threatening court action! My I & E details show that I cannot afford anyhing over 100.00, and I made an agreement in principle with an advisor over the phone!

 

This whole mess was caused by them in the first place and now I'm not sure what to do!

 

Can anybody advise me please?

 

Manby Thanks

Nat

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Well firstly you cannot hold them solely responsible for this - regardless of the direct debit issue, you didn't make any payments for 12 months, and did not make any efforts to pay by any other method. It would also be your responsibility to ensure the £100 was leaving your account each month and to query it if this did not take place.

 

In the circumstances, I would send a letter along the following lines:

 

Dear Sir/Madam

Acc/Ref No XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Thank you for your letter of XXXXXX. I am very disappointed that we seem unable to reach a satisfactory compromise in this case.

 

As I have already explained, I can only afford £100 per month at the present time. This is the only realistic payment proposal bearing in mind the enclosed personal budget sheet.

 

You have stated in correspondence your intention to commence proceedings in the county court against us. The commencement of legal proceedings under such circumstances could be counter to the ‘Overriding Objectives’ of the new Civil Procedure Rules. You will be aware that the Overriding Objectives underpin everything the court does. Moreover, paragraph 4 of the Protocols Practice Direction states that in cases not covered by an approved pre−action protocol, the court will expect the parties “to act reasonably…….. In trying to avoid the necessity for the start of proceedings”.

 

We would suggest that your refusal to accept our offer could be viewed as unreasonable and we would ask the court to consider this matter with reference to the Overriding Objectives.

 

The offer of £100 is of course still open to you to accept.

 

Yours faithfully

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Opinions given herein are made informally by myself as a lay-person in good faith based on personal experience. For legal advice you must always consult a registered and insured lawyer.

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Hi Barracad

 

Thanks for the excellent letter template & advice.

 

I understand that I am partly to blame.

I am also annoyed because they never acknowledged my I & E details, and I had also made an agreement to pay 100.00. Apparently they are inundated with complaints from people like myself, one of which is my mother.

 

Since this has come to light I have been using internet banking and checking my statements daily.

 

Thanks again

 

Nat

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Ermm, doesn't Council Tax go to Magistrates' Court?

 

With the possibilty of jail for non-payment. How else did those newsworthy pensioners get jailed - you can't be jailed by a civil court (except for comtempt)

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Hi

 

God I thoug it was only me that the direct debit issue had happened to. I experienced the same thing with my council which South Lakeland District Coucil.

I was nursing my Grandmother looking after 2 kids and had been into see them to set up the direct debit mandate. After 6 months I was checking my bank statements and thought why hasn't the council tax gone out so I phoned them. They had lost my mandate during processing. I was in arrears of £630.00. A new arrangement was set up to take the money from my bank.

 

I still have arrears on my account after 3 years I can never pay enough just to clear it in full. I work full time and bring up 2 kids but to the council I earn enough money to pay this years and the arrears a £283.00 per month. Yet I know people who owe thousand and pay £1 - £2.00 per week.

 

Yes it was my fault also but why did they wait 6 months before they told me.

 

I have every sympathy with you and hope you can get them to accept a lower payment.

 

All the best.

 

Citi settled =£252 :-)

Monument settled = £253 :-)

Capital 1 settled = £295 :-)

GMAC ERC = £1811.13 :-)

Lloyds Tsb = Moneyclaim form sent for £1343 4th Dec 2006

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Hi Lainynic

 

Good luck with sorting it out with the council today

 

 

Nat

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Barclaycard - MCOL issued for balance of partial refund 200.00

 

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The folk who were jailed were handled in this way because of their refusal to pay the Tax because of some injustice. This is not the case here, and if the Council were collecting the funds then ceased due to their error, there is not only cause for complaint, but justification for a claim of compensation due to the council's error.

 

Clearly there is a responsibility on the tax-payer to pay his taxes, but the council cannot pursue anyone for non paypment if they had the tools to effect payment and did not (through their error) collect it. As council's can usually obtain a warrant of default automatically, it is important to ensure that you advise them you wish to be formally advised of any court dates in order to arrange a defence to be lodged. This way, you can often go straight to a resolution (and compensation) without it being formally called.

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Hi Buzby,

 

I was not aware that I would be able to claim compensatiuon! Not sure how I would go about this.

 

Many Thanks

 

Natalie

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It is not a foregone conclusion, but in cases where their incompetence is proved, it is often possible to get a rebate (for example, a single person's allowance for council tax can be 25% or second home discount at 50%). Check what these are and when seeking satisfaction for their error - after all, you DID give them free access to your bank account, they have a responsibility to take these payments correctly and timeously. If I was in your situation, I'd suggest to them that they had the moral responsibility to process your payments timeously. As they did not, you will exceptionally agree to them being paid late, however, as an incentive for them not to put you in this situation again, you request that you receive one of the discounts previously mentioned for the months where the payments were NOT taken. If they don't agree, you will show your offer to a Judge in mitigation of their demand, should they decide to go for legal enforcement!

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I doubt very much that they will apply a discount on a property when it doesn't fall into the criteria I would think that they would have to be forced to pay compensation not break the rules for the SPD 2AR or any other exemption.

 

Still make sure that any court fees and/or liability orders you may incur will be refunded as this should not get to a summons stage as you are willing to make some form of payment, in fact if you still haven't made a payment due to them dragging their feet, make one so it looks like you are trying.

 

Direct your letters to the Director of Finance and ask to go through the Income and Expenditure Process failing this your MP failing this the LGO but all the while make your own I&E sheet (you can include such things as other debt, credit card and catalogues repayments along with normal bills, money for clothes, toiletries, travel etc.) and make payments every month of what you are propsing.

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Hi Cheddar

 

I have done the I&E and have been paying them 100.00 for 3 months now.

I recieved another letter from them yesterday which really wound me up.

They said 100.00 was "unnacceptable" because "Council Tax is a priority debt and more important than loans, credit cards and bills etc" and, they are "prepared to accept a temporary arrangement of 200.00 per month".

 

Surely it is not their right to decide which of my debts are a priority!?

If it wasn't for their new computer system, I would not be in this mess!!

 

I didnt sleep last night because of this

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Morgan Stanley credit card - WON!!!

 

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Barclaycard - MCOL issued for balance of partial refund 200.00

 

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To be honest, they have no right to an I&E and I'm surprised you agreed to do this. What you have to remember at all times is you are in this situation because of THEIR error, not yours, therefore you e looking to THEM for a resolution you can work with, not the other way around.

 

It is important that you make payments to account for the current months and battle it out for the arrears. I'd respond by saying to them they owed a duty of care to you - and as you had arranged your affairs to permit them access to the relevant funds, have to accept respoonsibility for their error.

 

As to cheddar's comment - each Council has discretion about how they resolve an issue like this, the point being made that just because it is a 'Property-type A' it does not automatically mean the council receive the stated amount each year, it can and does alter depending on individual circumstances - their previous error being WHOLLY their fault, and the tax payer should not be inconvenienced unduly by their stupidity.

 

In any communications, take the offensive, it was their error that started this, they have no right to dictate terms on a I&E, and you'll refer their incompetence to the Local Government Ombudsman and your MP if you do not receive satisfaction.

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I've just phoned them and asked to speak to Mrs Kilner who signed the letter but they wouldnt put me through. The girl I spoke to wouldnt comment on the problem with the direct debit being their fault, I think the telephone staff have been told to keep tight lipped about it. I've been doing my research and this was a massive problem all over Salford for Council Tax customers and it even made it to the front pages of our local paper!

Anyway, the girl told me that they probably wont accept 100.00, but they would probably accept my offer if it is a bit higher. I told her 100.00 was my offer and that is that.

She has put a messgae out for a manager to call me ASAP. I told her that if I dont hear anything today that I will be there first thing in the morning.

I also mentioned that I will be writing to my local MP, lodging a complaint with the ombudsman and I'm seeking legal advice.

I also told her that I will be writing to Salford Advertiser - our local paper.

 

I am seriously annoyed!

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This is the article in the local paper

 

 

The £2.5M council tax black hole

 

THE amount of council tax Salford City Council failed to collect has risen by more than £2.5 million in 12 months.

During the last financial year, Salford left £8,661,000 of council tax uncollected compared to £5,993,000 in 2004/05 - an increase of £2,668,000.

Town hall bosses claim a new computer system is responsible for a figure which places the city at the bottom of a table of the 36 authorities in the north west.

Advertisement

 

 

 

Conservative Councillor Karen Garrido said: "I’m absolutely appalled.

"It’s absolutely awful and we’ve got to start collecting it. We need to start sending out reminders earlier and if people are in difficulty they need to come and talk to the council.

"It’s an absolute disgrace and we need to start getting the money in because it affects everything we do."

Lib Dem Councillor Norman Owen said: "When we’ve got services like children's services in dire need of investment we can’t afford to be falling short in our council tax collections.

"Now I’m on the budget committee I will be keeping a sharper eye on the situation."

A spokesperson for Salford City Council said: "Last year we introduced a new computer-based system to help us improve on council tax collection.

"However, getting used to new ways of working takes time and that did mean a temporary delay in recovering outstanding payments.

"We have made a good start this financial year though and already in the first half of the year we have collected as much in arrears as in the whole of 2005/06.

"We wish to assure residents that we will persist in chasing any remaining outstanding debts."

In Manchester the amount uncollected rose by £1,835,000 and across the north west there was an increase for 23 councils. Across Great Britain the amount uncollected was £738 million compared to £742.7 million in 2004/2005.

Kathryn Ryan

 

First published by the Salford Advertise

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Morgan Stanley credit card - WON!!!

 

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That's it - just keep on the pressure. If you could be accused of avoiding your civic responsibilities, then there would be an explanation for heavy-handed tactic, but as you weren't, they've got the problem and have to find an amicible work-around. Keep us posted!

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Keep going for it, as for what comes in what order it is correct that CT has a high priority the CAB will tell you this but if you can't afford something you can't afford it, and especially when error lies with the LA.

 

Contact your MP here WriteToThem.com - Email or fax your Councillor, MP, MEP, MSP or Welsh, NI, London Assembly Member for free before going through the LGO.

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There's some good advice in this thread. In addition, have you considered contacting your local councillor about this? He/she has an obligation to work on behalf of his/her electorate, and given that he/she will be in contact with the officers very regularly it may get things moving along. If your councillor is from the party in power, he or she will be keen for this not to be widely publicised, especially given the previous embarrassment surrounding council tax. If he/she is from the opposition, they'll be keen to make a big fuss about this, which will probably result in a swift solution.

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Hi Gruffle Gaw

 

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Any ideas what I should write to the councillor?

LTSB -claiming back WON!!!

 

Mint credit card - WON!!!

 

Morgan Stanley credit card - WON!!!

 

LTSB credit card - MCOL issued WON!!

 

Barclaycard - MCOL issued for balance of partial refund 200.00

 

Gorvins Solicitors - WON!!!

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Just explain that the council, having been given unrestricted access to your bank account chose not to take the amounts due to them and have made intolerable demands to make up for uncollected payments that were the council's error. Whilst you have no objection whatsoever in paying your taxes as they fell due, the council - despite its maladministration of your Council Tax account, is seeking payments far in excess of what you can afford to make up the difference. With the council being unsympathetic to your plight, you hope your councillor's intervention will make the Finance Department see sense, and acknowledge it shortcomings - and take its responsibilities ro residents seriously.

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Thanks Buzby thats great

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Mint credit card - WON!!!

 

Morgan Stanley credit card - WON!!!

 

LTSB credit card - MCOL issued WON!!

 

Barclaycard - MCOL issued for balance of partial refund 200.00

 

Gorvins Solicitors - WON!!!

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Hi Gruffle Gaw

 

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Any ideas what I should write to the councillor?

 

You can either write (what buzby suggested should do the trick) or just give the councillor a ring. Here's a list of your councillors, broken down by ward: Councillors by ward

 

Just choose the one that represents the ward closest to where you live and click on his or her name. Contact details, including an address and telephone number, will come up. I'm sure they'll be happy to help - that's what they're elected to do.

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Gruffle Gaw vs Halifax - £1531.50: ***WON - cheque for £1966.78 received 30/09/06***:)

I'm not a legal professional and my advice is given without prejudice or liability.

If you found my post helpful, please click the scales on the left.

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I've contacted my councillor through the write to your MP/councillor link suggested earlier in the thread and he told me it's better to contact them directly because it takes less time to get the email that way.

 

Also, I think it would be worth mentioning that you know others, like your mother, have had the same problems - if he thinks the issue is affecting a lot of his electorate that will be even more reason to act.

Gruffle Gaw vs Halifax - £1531.50: ***WON - cheque for £1966.78 received 30/09/06***:)

I'm not a legal professional and my advice is given without prejudice or liability.

If you found my post helpful, please click the scales on the left.

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