9 April 2018

Odds of being struck by lightning twice are 1 in 9 million, or maybe not.

There is nothing in the legislation that mandates a payment method
The odds must be about the same as Mr Mustard being told by Crapita that he could only change his council tax payments from 10 instalments a year to 12 a year if he set up a direct debit, except Mr Mustard would have taken your money at evens that Barnet Council/Crapita would try it on a second time. Readers with good memories will remember this blog.
Mr Mustard purchased a house to do up in September 17. He told the council of the purchase and received a council tax bill for 2017/18 spread over 4 payments which he duly paid. The bill arrived recently for 2018/19 and was split across 10 payments. Mr Mustard expected to be selling the property long before March 19 so he emailed the council and said:

21 March 2018

I refer to my council tax bill dated 16/03/2018.

I would like to pay it in 12 instalments please.

With a boring inevitability back came the reply from Crapita
26 March 2018

Thank you for your email received.

Please note that in order to pay by 12 instalments you are required to set up a Direct Debit, we are unable to set up 12 cash payments.

Yours sincerely

Redacted to save their blushes
Local Taxation Officer
Barnet Council

Mr Mustard's fingers graced the keyboard once again & sent Crapita an invitation to dig themselves further into a hole:
26 March 2018

Thank you for your reply.

Is that council policy or just what the law says?

Many thanks

Suddenly the opposite was true:

5 April 2018

Thank you for your recent email regarding the above council tax account.

I apologise for the confusion, but 12 monthly payments are available without setting up a direct debit and I have now amended your instalments.

A new bill will be with you in the next few days.

Never content to leave a good bone Mr Mustard sent back a further polite request, as he couldn't see how confusion could have arisen, unless the meaning of the word has developed from the natural meaning of 'disorder' to now meaning an outright lie, especially a bad one, or incompetence.

5 April 2018

What was it you were confused about?

When is a direct debit ever compulsory?

Many thanks

Whatever the true reason and Mr Mustard suspects that it is an inept & misguided internal unofficial policy decision (councillors are meant to decide policy) by some low ranking member of management at Crapita to make it easier to hit the council tax collection target as that generates extra earnings for Crapita. The Conservative councillors, who voted like lemmings for outsourcing to Crapita, never thought through the consequences of their actions nor that now council tax is dealt with out of their sight it is certainly out of their mind and outwith their control.

Mr Mustard would like to know if you have been coerced into setting up a direct debit when you didn't really want to on the assumption that the council, in the voice of Crapita, would be telling you the truth.

It is high time to cancel your direct debit and replace it with a standing order through your online bank account, which is how Mr Mustard pays. Occasionally direct debits go wrong, with those holding them, like Barnet Council or their less than competent agents, demanding payments twice in one month, as happened a few years back. Banks sometimes also make the same mistake but errors with standing order payments seem to happen far less often. A standing order puts you in control, as you can change it without anyone else's involvement, whereas with a direct debit you are reliant on the person you are paying correctly helping themselves to whatever they want.

If you have a standing order you can easily set up 12 payments if that is what you want, you still have to ask the council to amend the demand, but whilst they are doing that you can get on with paying the first of the 12 instalments, as Mr Mustard has, so that arrears do not arise.

At some point later in the year Mr Musatrd will probably buy another property. He will ask to pay his council tax by 12 instalments. Will another silly person try to bluff him into paying by direct debit? Mr Mustard thinks they will.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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