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Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

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  • Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

    What I suspect is North East Lincs council's flawed Council Tax software has incorrectly allocated monies relating to the current year's liability to a previous year's account (an account in dispute) putting the current year's Council Tax in arrears.

    A reminder notice was sent dated 13 October 2014 (received 16th October) from which I could immediately see what had caused the Council's automated system to throw a wobbler.

    Two transactions were made on the same day (the sum of the two equalled my instalment amount). I assumed because the council's system didn't recognise the payment as it did not match the exact sum of the instalment amount it automatically allocated £60 to a previous year's account and what remained came off the current liability. Consequently there was a shortfall of £60 on this year's Council Tax.

    Emailed the council on 16th October explaining what was likely to be the error and asked that they reallocate payment to this year's account and if there was another reason for the anomaly that they explain.

    There was no reply (other than confirming receipt of email) and it didn't appear as if they'd addressed the issue and re-allocated funds to the proper account.

    On checking the balance of my Council Tax today, it has increased by £60 (the council's standard summons costs).

    This must be happening in all or most local authorities, and must amount to organised crime aided and abetted by Council Tax software developers.

    I have not yet received a summons but no doubt it will be in the post.

    EDIT:

    Adding court costs in advance must be unlawful in itself?
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

    The email was sent on 16 October to the council:

    From: outlawla
    To: counciltax@nelincs.gov.uk
    Sent: October 16, 2014
    Subject: Council Tax reminder - 550xxxxxxx

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Re: Council Tax reminder – 550xxxxxxx

    I have received a reminder this morning stating that my payments are overdue.

    I can verify that my payments are up to date.

    In order to stop this escalating unnecessary I will suggest where the problem may lie.

    My instalment (£89) was paid several days ago in two transactions (£80 and £9) on the same day. The reason being I was not at home and no reference to hand and mistakenly thought my instalment was £80 and realised afterwards it was in fact £89.

    Presumably NELC's council tax system has not recognised the payment and therefore allocated it to a previous year's account. This, I suspect, has caused this situation.

    If this is the case, please reallocate payment to the this year's account. If there's another reason for the anomaly please explain what is required.


    Yours sincerely

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

      The email sent today (10 November) to the council:


      From: outlawla
      To: counciltax@nelincs.gov.uk
      Sent: November 10, 2014
      Subject: Council Tax reminder - 550xxxxxxx

      Dear Sir/Madam

      Re: Council Tax reminder – 550xxxxxxx

      ISSUE 1

      I contacted NELC on 16 October 2014 regarding my Council Tax account (see details below). I received acknowledgement the same day and was informed that the council aimed to respond to the query within 10 working days (also below). North East Lincolnshire Council never responded.

      ISSUE 2

      I believed I made payment with regards my November instalment via internet banking on the 7th of this month. Today I checked North East Lincolnshire Council's website to make sure the remaining balance had reduced accordingly and noticed the balance had increased by £60 (the equivalent of summons costs).

      My online account shows no record of the £89 payment I made on 7 November 2014 and have no explanation as to why the transaction failed. However, this morning I made a transaction (£89.00) which I believe has been successful and will be in North East Lincolnshire Council's bank account shortly.

      ISSUE 3

      I'm assuming that North East Lincolnshire Council has added £60 to my account today. Regardless of what I assume is a bank failure detailed in "issue 2", North East Lincolnshire Council is not justified in adding a £60 sum to my account.

      The notice I received on 16 October 2014 (Dated 13 October) is the only statutory reminder I have received in the current year, which was sent erroneously (therefore void). The required number of reminders have therefore not been sent and the council, if it has made complaint to the Magistrates' court, has done so unlawfully.This is evidence of maladministration, more so, given that North East Lincolnshire Council negligently failed to address my email on the 16th of October.

      ISSUE 4

      Please be aware that if this query is similarly ignored and the concerns not remedied I will be reporting this to the police as an attempt of North East Lincolnshire Council to defraud me.



      Yours sincerely

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

        Failings brought about by councils attempting to automate administration so that they can eliminate the use of paid employees raises much wider issues than the inconvenience it causes Council Taxpayers.

        As detailed in the above posts, the council left it to its software to instigate court proceedings, relying solely on the fact a payment didn't match exactly (to the penny) the instalment amount. For this case, and all others like it (every local authority), the council will be invoiced from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) a sum of £3 in respect of the court fee for making complaint to the court. The council will be liable to pay this even though complaint was made in error and it won't be recovered from me.

        Benefit Reforms

        This is just the tip of the iceberg. When the benefit reforms were introduced, the government must have known that because of the bedroom tax and council tax benefit cuts, the number of people falling in arrears and subject to liability orders and court costs would sky rocket. It must also have known that in hundreds and thousands of cases, councils would stand no chance of recovering monies from individuals incurring the costs. In these cases, the MoJ will still invoice councils for the £3 for each complaint so the local authority has to pay the court (another government body) thousands of pounds which it is unable to recover.

        That little manoeuvre is stealthily taxing the public as in these cases it is not the individual defaulting on payment who pays this but the taxpayer in general.

        A master stroke by the government in using local authorities, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Court Service to bring in an extra 'x' amount of £millions each year.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

          The council has not replied and doubt that it will in order to collect its fraudulent court costs.

          This has just been reported to Action Fraud and it states the following on its website:

          If you know anyone else who believes they have been a victim of fraud who wants to report the incident please ask them to complete the online report found at www.actionfraud.police.uk, or phone the contact centre on 0300 123 2040.
          If similar has happened to anyone reading this thread then it would seem that the Police want to know about it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

            A summons has arrived this morning which means the £60 that I noticed added to my account on 10 November was the costs it added in respect of issuing the summons. The hearing date is 28 November.

            This proves not only that they have fraudulently added these costs, but they have no way of justifying that this sum has been reasonably incurred. The proceedings have been instituted solely on account of its computer system. There has been no cost to the council other than the £3 for the Magistrates court fee and a few pence for its discounted postal service.

            Note:

            The council obviously make no checks before instituting court action and can claim nothing regarding such expenditure. If they had they would have discovered that the payment default was caused by a glitch in its council tax software.

            This has even been spelt out to the morons which they chose to ignore.

            The doctored signature on the summons is that of the Clerk to the Justices who is the person in connection with a judicial complaint regarding perverting the course of justice (2 September 2014) which has been ignored completely. The same Justices' Clerk is or was the secretary of the body to which the complaint was made so it would seem that the corruption within the judiciary is limitless.

            Edit:

            Included in the summonsed amount is a sum of £60 for which they already have a liability order from a previous year.

            ARE THEY SAFE?
            Last edited by outlawlgo; 12th November 2014, 20:33:PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

              Without any explanation the council have notified me that there's no longer a need to attend court.

              Payments have been re-allocated, the summons withdrawn and costs removed.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                No explanation whatsoever ? Presumably you wrote to them after receiving the last summons ?
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                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                  Originally posted by Amethyst View Post
                  No explanation whatsoever ? Presumably you wrote to them after receiving the last summons ?
                  No none.

                  The council is reluctant to admit it but it relies solely on the computer system to allocate payments in a set way when there are amounts outstanding relating to different years.

                  It says it can't reveal the way its system operates on the grounds that the software is copyrighted, i.e., disclosure of the instructions would prejudice its IT contractor's position in relation to its Council Tax processing system.

                  However, what I believe is the top secret information has been released by other councils.


                  The following I think sums up how its system works against taxpayers:

                  Parameters are set in its payment allocation system such that it only recognises exact sums. If for example your first Council Tax instalment is £99.99 and you pay £100 into your account, then the councils computer will only allocate this sum to the current year's account if there is no amount outstanding / disputed belonging to a previous year.

                  If you do have an amount outstanding / disputed etc. then the council's allocation system will not recognise the payment because the amount differs by 1p. It then allocates the amount to the previous year's account with the effect of putting your current year's account in arrears.

                  The council's automated reminder notice is then triggered because parameters are set to do this when the account balance does not match what it should after a number of days in arrears (those numbers of days also determined by set parameters).

                  Similarly a summons will be automatically sent (parameters set again) and it likely that court costs will be incurred.


                  All of this still doesn't explain why payments are not re-allocated as soon as the relevant revenues department has been notified. In this case it's a mystery why suddenly out of the blue the council withdrew recovery through the Magistrates' court and associated costs.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                    They must realise that it could go very badly for them if they persisted in the court action, especially in view of the Rev Nicholson's ongoing appeal.

                    If my memory is correct, I was told that many Council Tax and revenue IT systems are provided by an arm of our old step friends Crapita!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                      Would seem they have something to do with the online payment system; the web address gives it away (ip.e-paycapita.....). However, Northgate is the authority's IT contractor that supplies its Council Tax processing system.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                        Hi outlaw

                        The processing software they use does not work properly, and NELC use this to there advantage.

                        It only processes direct debits properly, it gets stuck with standing order payment and all other type payments.

                        The legislation and rules state that it has to be checked prior to processing for court action. The legal responcability lies with the monitoring officer ( or ex ), and this is deligated down to NTS.
                        [MENTION=8136]outlawlgo[/MENTION] am looking for the internal reports from around the tijmes they raised the fees, have been told i need to add them to my claim, any pointers
                        crazy council ( as in local council,NELC ) as a member of the public, i don't get mad, i get even

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                          They have a habit of moving their reports about, so they take a bit time finding sometimes.

                          The reports which relate to the 2011 budget when they consolidated the summons and liability order costs into one (front loaded to summons) are here:

                          Cabinet - February 14th 2011

                          I think the proposal to increase summons costs to raise additional £188k a year is mentioned under income generation in Appendix 4 and 6 (on that web page).

                          The Budget report ["This Link"] tells you that the public were consulted over increasing the costs (page 12 paragraph 1.52). The respondents favoured increasing summons costs over introducing charges for replacement bins and waste collections. I think the council neglected to tell those consulted that doing this sort of thing was unlawful, but there you go.

                          This might be useful: Scrutiny chairs minutes 28 Jan 2011

                          The Chief Executive didn't listen to the Councillor's concerns about increasing the summons costs by 120%. He evidently missed the point.

                          At BS10 (Increase summons cost), Councillor Howarth was invited to comment and he raised his concern at the impact this proposal would have on the most vulnerable people in this Borough. Mr. Walsh acknowledged the concerns but noted that the Council had a duty to collect monies owed.
                          EDIT:

                          Scrutiny panal 11th January 2011

                          The Panel had a number of queries in relation to the savings proposals at Appendix 5 to the report, and it was agreed to discuss these further in private session.
                          There was evidently some secrecy surrounding the saving proposals which probably involved the point raised in Appendix 4:

                          "
                          The SCLG supports this proposal in principle. However members sought reassurance that increase in charges would not create a perverse incentive to summons.


                          Last edited by outlawlgo; 14th November 2014, 14:26:PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                            Originally posted by outlawlgo View Post
                            Adding court costs in advance must be unlawful in itself?
                            You are correct, in that it is unlawful, but it is not illegal - there is a very important difference. For the information of all, councils are allowed to issue their own summonses, bearing the signatureof the Clerk to the Justices, but that cannot do anything more - once the "information" (the formal allegation to the Court that the matter must now go before the Court) has been laid, there must be a hearing at which the matter is adjudicated by the magistrates. It's a matter for the alleged "offender" as to whether he or she takes the assurances of the Council as trustworthy, but the summons is not "cancelled" (withdrawn) until the magistrates permit it.

                            Therefore, no costs are payable before the magistrates award them.

                            See the account of my own extraordinary experiences here, when - following a serious error by my local council about my identity - I not only got summonsed to Court, but the Council staff called the police alleging contempt of Court when I recorded the Council official's interview because she had made claims that I knew to be untrue. I ought to add that the police officers were extremely professional and, after the Court confirmed that no offence had been committed, my phone was subsequently returned to me.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Misallocating payments and ignoring email to exploit Magistrates court costs

                              Update on the Action Fraud report.

                              ActionFraud
                              National Fraud
                              Intelligence Bureau
                              08 December 2014

                              Dear Mr outlawlgo

                              Re: NFRC141100833589

                              I’m writing to inform you of the current position of your report.

                              Your report has been assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and I regret to say there are insufficient viable lines of enquiry for a successful criminal investigation. Therefore your report has not been sent to a local police force or other law enforcement organisation for a criminal investigation at this time.

                              Please be assured that the NFIB will retain your report and that all reports are reassessed constantly for viable leads, as well as to inform prevention activity.

                              The NFIB has not closed your report following this. As hundreds of new reports of fraud are gathered every day and added to our systems, any common links with existing reports will be picked up and can lead to new investigative opportunities. The NFIB work closely with other law enforcement agencies and regulators in the UK and abroad, to stop fraudsters. We also use all reports to inform our prevention activity to reduce the number of victims of fraud.

                              If you would like more information on how to protect yourself from fraud, there is information at www.actionfraud.police.uk/support_for_you.
                              Thank you for taking the time to report this matter to us.

                              Yours sincerely,

                              Pete O'Doherty
                              Director NFIB
                              Remember! If similar has happened to anyone reading this thread then it would seem that the Police want to know about it

                              Comment

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