Recovery Procedures Explained
Information regarding what happens if you have not paid your council tax.
The methods most commonly used to enforce the liability order are:
- Attachment of Earnings - this means that if you are in work (not self employed) we can ask your employer to deduct a certain regular amount from your wages or salary to pay off your debt.
- Attachment of Income Support/Jobseeker's Allowance/Employment Support Allowance/Pension Credits/Universal Credit - this means that we can get the Department of Work and Pensions to deduct a certain regular sum from your benefits allowance to pay off your debt.
- Enforcement Agents - Enforcement Agents themselves endeavour to make a payment plan with you but can and will remove goods in certain cases.
- Charging Order & Order of Sale - this means the council places a charge on your home or property that you own, the charge is registered with Land Registry. Depending on circumstances and the level of debt, the council may apply to the Magistrates Courts for an Order of Sale. If granted this would enable the council to sell the property in order to repay the debt from the proceeds.
- Bankruptcy & Liquidation - the council will initiate bankruptcy and liquidation proceedings where this is deemed to be the only way of obtaining the sums due. This action can be taken against individuals and companies who owe debts in excess of £5000.
The Enforcement Agents employed by this council works to an agreed code of practice. If an agent calls on you and you have not paid or are unable to pay the amount outstanding in full, including the Council's and the agent's costs, you will still be able to make a payment plan to clear the debt. The agent will ask to enter your home to make a list of goods.
If you fail to honour the payment plan the agent could return later to remove and sell your goods. At this stage, further costs will be incurred for the removal of the goods, auctioneer's fees and the cost of storage.
If an Enforcement Agent calls and you fail to make contact, or if you have insufficient goods which can be removed, the agent will return the liability order to the Council for further enforcement action.
If all the previous options fail then a summons may be issued requiring you to attend a committal hearing in the magistrates' court. The Justices will carry out an examination into your conduct and means. If they consider that the money should have been paid, a warrant of commitment may be issued placing you in prison for up to three months. This further action will involve additional costs.
What to think about at every stage
If you are having difficulty in paying your council tax, get in touch with the Council immediately. Remember we will always try to make a payment plan with you, but we will not agree to payments which leave you falling further behind into even more arrears. You may be entitled to a reduction, benefits, discount, or relief. Please visit our Local Council Tax Support page.
Discuss or check your financial position with us to see if you may be entitled to a reduction in your council tax bill. If you are on a low income you may qualify for council tax benefit.
If you pay by Direct Debit, you save time, money and you do not run the risk of falling behind as payments are made for you by your bank or building society. You can select to pay on the 1st or 15th of the month, whichever suits you better:
If you wish to set up a Direct Debit, please contact us on 01799 510510.
If you have any queries regarding the Recovery Procedures, or you have received a notice from the Council please contact us. You can find details of how to contact us at the foot of this page.
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