Summons costs

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    Andy Thurman

    Advice please.

    Decision on claim for HB/CTB delayed (not greatly) due to system issue (viewing docs received). In the interim period summons are attached to the ctax account as no payment received.

    The claimant/taxpayer (lone parent, working – 2 kids under 10) has e-mailed the benefits section to chase claim, has evidently been very concerned re both paying her rent and council tax & has now received a partial award of both HB & CTB. Had a decision been made on the day all evidence provided, the summons would not have been issued.

    Despite strong representations from all levels within benefits, ctax are refusing to remove the summons cost: “The case law is quite clear that making a benefit claim does not give a tax payer the right to withhold payment. As no payments were made towards the account the summons has been issued correctly in accordance with the legislation.” 👿

    Does anyone have any contradictory case law to help fight this decision? The reasons we feel it is wrong are:
    1. It has been confirmed that if full CTB had been awarded, the costs would have been removed – this shows preferential treatement to someone in our claimant’s position who doesn’t bother to try and work!
    2. No actual costs have been incurred by Council Tax – money making scam.
    3. The albeit small delay in the benefit claim left the claimant unable to make the payment in time (chose ‘naively’ to pay what little money she had to her private landlord rather than the council).
    4. The council’s own anti-poverty policies.
    5. Within one week of the summons letter, claimant had chased her benefit claim, made an initial payment (on top of the benefit award & the late placing of an SPD on the account) & prepared a budgeted payment plan. i.e. no “withholding” of payment, simply an inability to pay. 👿 👿

    Please help!!!!

    Steve H

    Hello Andy,

    hope I am not too late in replying……

    Whilst I don’t know of any case law, there was an Ombudsman decision in 2007 05/B/16773 against Northampton BC that did have a finding that might help.

    Whilst most of the complaint is about the way the HB/CTB claim was dealt with, the Ombudsman does make a point in his conclusion regarding no check by the revenue section on the outstanding claims prior to issuing a summons and he states; “The failure to make these basic checks was maladministration”.

    Also, although my knowledge is rather out of date on the subject, I am not aware of any legal requirement to remove costs if full benefit is subsequently awarded (provided the summons was isssued correctly in the first place), so I think you are right to hint at some sort of discrimination against those who claim prior to summons, but don’t receive full benefit. It seems common sense for those who can least afford to pay only prevails if full benefit is awarded.

    Not that this is any use to you, but our CT team does not summons cases where we have an outstanding claim or item of post not yet dealt with.



    From IRRV studies………..

    CTAX would be within their rights to proceed as O/S CTB issues are not valid defences (R v Bristol Magistrates Court and Bristol CC ex parte Willsman and Young 1991). However the Magistrates are increasingly unlikely to issue LO’s in cases such as this and will adjourn.

    It seems that CT section have been a tad overzealous. I would advise that, if CT took no action to check the progress of the CTB claim prior to the hearing, then, as Steve H says, a complaint of maladministration could be the best way out of this for your client.

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................

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