Everyone is entitled to pay their current years bill by instalments. If you receive a bill at the start of the financial year you will get 10 instalments, where bills are issued in the year the number of instalments will be reduced.
Reminders and Final Notices
If you do not pay the instalments that are due you will be sent a reminder asking you to bring your payments up to date within 7 days. The full years charge will become due if the payments are not brought up to date.
Summonses and Court Orders
The Council will apply for a Court Order called a Liability Order against anyone who fails to pay following a reminder. You will be summonsed to appear at the Magistrates Court to explain why you have not paid and will have to pay at least £60.00 costs.
Once the Liability Order is made by the Court, the Council can choose any of the following methods to enforce payment:
- Order your employer to make deductions from your wages
- Instruct a bailiff to seize and sell your belongings
- Ask the DSS to make deductions from your Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment Support Allowance
- Register a charging order against your property
- Apply to the County Court to make you bankrupt
- Apply to the Magistrates Court for you to be sent to prison
You can also be asked to provide information about your employment and income. Failure to supply this information is a criminal offence and the Council may prosecute you in the Magistrates Court. The penalty if you are convicted is a fine of up to £500.00 plus an order to pay the Council’s court costs.
Council Tax Arrears – Attachment of Earnings Orders
Once the Magistrates Court has issued a Liability Order for non payment of Council Tax the Council can issue an Attachment of Earnings Order.
This means a legal order is sent to a person’s employer instructing them to take deductions from their wages each time they are paid.
The amount that can be taken is set by the Government and is based on the person’s take home pay. The following table shows how much is taken:
Deduction Rates for Council Tax Attachment of Earnings Orders
|Up to £75
||Up to £300
|£75 to £135
||£300 to £550
|£135 to £185
||£550 to £740
|£185 to £225
||£740 to £900
|£225 to £335
||£900 to £1,420
|£335 to £505
||£1,420 to £2,020
||17% on the first £505 (weekly) or £2,020 (monthly) then 50% on the rest|
The Council can instruct a Certificated Bailiff to remove items belonging to you and sell them. This is known as levying distress and can be done:
- By any Certificated Bailiff (this is a person who is approved by the court)
- At any time of the day
- Anywhere in England and Wales
When bailiffs are in a property they can take goods with a value of the amount of debt owed to the Council.
This is an agreement signed by the debtor that allows the goods to remain in the property providing an agreement is made to pay or until the goods can be removed. If the debtor does not keep up with the payment arrangement the bailiff will return and remove the goods.
The bailiff stays with the goods until payment is made, or until the goods can be removed.
Seizure of goods
The bailiff removes goods from the property. Only goods belonging to the person on the Liability Order can be removed. A bailiff cannot remove certain goods. These include:
- Fixtures and fittings
- Goods on hire purchase
- Goods that are rented
- Tools, books, vehicles and any other equipment that is necessary to meet the basic needs of you and your family
- Food, clothing, bedding, furniture and household equipment that is necessary to meet the basic needs of you and your family
The removed goods are sold at public auction to pay the debt that is owed.
A bankruptcy order could be made against a person who fails to pay their debts. A petition by a creditor is usually presented at the County Court and once an order is made an official receiver would be given responsibility for administering the bankruptcy.
Being made bankrupt is serious and could have a number of effects on you that include:
- Your assets will no longer be controlled by you
- The Official Receiver may have to sell your home to go towards paying the bankruptcy debts
- When a bankruptcy order is made you should stop using your cheque book and bank cards and hand them over to the Official Receiver
- Your pension may be claimed in the bankruptcy whether you are currently receiving it or it is due in the future
- If you are self employed your business would almost certainly be closed down and any employees dismissed
A bankruptcy order can still be made even if you refuse to acknowledge the proceedings or refuse to agree to them.
Bankruptcy deals with debts at the date on which the order is made. If new debts are incurred after that date it could result in a further bankruptcy order.
There are cases when all options to recover outstanding payments have been exhausted. In this event the Council has no option but to issue a summons for you to attend a committal hearing at the Magistrates Court. This means the Council will ask the court to send you to prison.
At the court hearing the Magistrates will decide if you have deliberately refused to pay or have always overlooked paying. You may be asked questions by the Magistrates and by a representative of the Council. When the Magistrates have heard the case they can make one of several decisions:
If more information or evidence is needed before a decision can be made a case can be postponed until a later date.
Court order without a suspended sentence
You will be ordered to pay a set amount. If you do not keep up with the payments you will be ordered back to court to explain why you have not paid. The Magistrates will then decide what to do next.
Court order with a suspended sentence
You will be ordered to pay a set amount. If you do not keep up the payments you will be sent to prison for a set amount of time.
Committal to prison
The Magistrates can send you to prison straight away.