Wigan Council act as an Enforcement Agent (Bailiff) for the collection of Council Tax and Business Rates alongside external enforcement agencies.
If you have received a letter from Wigan Council acting as the Enforcement Agency then you need to read the information below.
PLEASE NOTE: If the enforcement agency is an external agency, then you need to refer to the relevant agency that you have received a letter from.
Make a payment
Struggling to pay?
If you're struggling to pay your Council Tax or facing financial difficulties, we may be able to support you by reviewing your income and expenditure details to:
- Agree an affordable payment plan
- Change an existing payment plan.
Following a liability order for unpaid Council Tax you are required to provide us with further information.
To access support with your Council Tax and provide us with the required information please visit our struggling to pay page.
You may also be eligible for discounts and exemptions.
Once a Liability Order is made by the Court, if we choose to instruct an enforcement agent to recover the Council Tax owed, then formal enforcement action will apply and your Council tax account will incur fees and charges.
At any point during the enforcement agency action stage 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 plus an order to pay our court costs.
- Removal/disposal of goods
- Final proceedings - Bankruptcy proceedings, Committal proceedings, Charging Order
Stages and fees
|Fee stage||Fixed fee||Additional fees (debts over £1,500)|| |
||This fee covers activity from the receipt of the case. It includes the issue of a notice of enforcement, dealing with any contact from the person(s) who owe the debt and any processing of correspondence or payments.
||7.5% of any amount over £1,500
||First attendance by the enforcement agent (bailiff) to the person’s premises or doorstep. The fee includes all the work carried out at this stage so there are no additional visit charges.
|Removal/disposal of goods
||7.5% of any amount over £1,500
||This covers activity from the first attendance at the property to remove the goods to a place of sale.
Enforcement Agent action
Enforcement Agents are regulated by law. When they are in a property they can take items that belong to you, with a value of the amount of debt owed to us, and sell them. This is known as taking control of goods and can be done:
- By any Certificated Enforcement Agent (this is a person who is approved by the court)
- Anywhere in England and Wales
- At any time between the permitted hours of 6am - 9pm.
Enforcement Agents will wear Body Worn Cameras as recommended by the Ministry of Justice in the best interests of the customer and agent.
For more information about the use of Body Worn Cameras by council officers you can visit our CCTV web page for further information.
Exceptions to permitted hours
- Where the goods are used in a trade or business and are on premises that are open for trading outside of the normal permitted hours, such goods may be seized during trading hours.
- Where the enforcement agent has begun to take control of goods during hours that are permitted, he/she may continue into prohibited hours provided the overall time is reasonable for the work required.
Taking control of goods
The Enforcement Agent removes goods from the property. Only goods belonging to the person on the Liability Order can be removed. An Enforcement Agent 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.
Find more information on The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 legislation.
A bankruptcy order could be made against you if you fail to pay your 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 we have no option but to issue a summons for you to attend a committal hearing at the Magistrates Court. This means we 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:
- Adjournment - 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.