If you are receiving Jobseekers' Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension credits, we can make deductions of approximately £3.60 per week for council tax from the above benefits.
We do not need your permission to do this if a liability order has been granted at court.
The deductions will continue until the council tax you owe is paid in full, or you stop receiving benefits. If you stop receiving benefits and the debt is still unpaid, you need to contact us to make an arrangement to pay straight away.
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If you have received an attachment of earnings order, your employer will deduct a set percentage from your wage to pay your council tax until it is paid in full. We do not need your permission to do this if a liability order has been granted at court.
Neither your employer nor the council decide the amount to be deducted - it depends on how much you earn. In all cases, the more you earn, the more will be deducted. The rate of deductions is set by central Government.
We will not cancel these attachments once they are set up unless you can prove you are having severe financial difficulties. If you believe this applies to you, please contact us as soon as possible.
You need to show us that after you have paid for essential things, the attachment(s) will mean that you cannot make ends meet. We can only take account of essential spending, not spending on things you could manage without. We may then agree to cancel your attachments. However, you will still have to pay your council tax, and we will have to agree how you are going to do that.Top of page
If you have received an attachment of earnings order for an employee, you must use the table enclosed with the order to deduct the appropriate percentage from your employee’s wage. You can deduct an extra £1 for each deduction to cover your administrative costs. You must then send the payment to us. Our address is provided in the order.
You may receive a maximum of two orders for council tax arrears for one employee at any one time. Where two orders are in force, you need to deduct the appropriate percentage for the earliest order first. Then, you need to deduct the appropriate percentage for the second order, depending on how much wage is left after the first deduction. The second order does not replace the first and both deductions must be made at the same time until they are paid.
If you receive a third order you should not apply this but contact us instead.
You must send payments to us within 19 days of the end of the month when the employee was paid. If you do not do this it is a criminal offence and you can be fined up to £1,000.
You must tell us within 14 days if the employee named on the order does not work for you or has left your employment. Please call us if you have any queries on 01482 394747.
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We appreciate that visits from bailiffs can cause distress and we will only use them where we have no other way of getting payment from you. We will not normally use bailiffs if:
- you have agreed a payment arrangement with us;
- you are receiving Employment & Support Allowance, Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance;
- you have provided your employment details.
There are three private bailiff companies who work on our behalf and they are all members of professional bodies such as the Enforcement Services Association and the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation. Every bailiff employed holds a court certificate and is properly trained to behave in a professional manner. They are allowed by law to charge certain fees and the amount charged must be agreed with us.
If the bailiffs come across potentially vulnerable people such as the elderly or seriously ill we have asked them stop taking action and to inform us straight away. In most other cases we will not be involved - once the bailiff has contacted you we expect you to deal directly with them.
The three companies we use are:
Jacobs Certificated Bailiffs
4 Europa Boulevard
Tel: 0845 601 2692
Fax: 0151 650 4999
Rundles & Co
53 Northampton Road
Tel: 08456 585030
59 Clarke Road
Tel: 01604 633001
Fax: 01604 621096
You should contact us direct if you wish to question what bailiffs can and cannot legally do, or if you have a complaint about a bailiff’s behaviour or the costs you have been charged.
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If you owe at least £1000 for council tax, we can place a 'charging order' on your property.
If we decide to do this, we will first write to you giving details of your debt and explaining how a charging order would affect you. Please contact us without delay at this stage to make an arrangement to pay.
If we do not hear from you or do not receive full payment, we will apply to the county court to place a charging order on your property. This means that, when the property is sold, the charge must be paid before any money can be paid over to you. We will ask the court to include our legal costs, which can be very expensive. It is in your own interests to pay all the council tax outstanding before we apply to court for a charging order.
The county court can give us permission to force a sale of the property so that your unpaid council tax and costs can be paid although we would not normally ask for this. We would much prefer to receive your payment rather than ask for a charging order owing to the high legal costs that would be passed on to you. We will only apply for a charging order if we have tried other ways of getting payment from you but have not been successful.
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When we have tried to collect your council tax by all other methods, including using bailiffs, we can ask the Magistrates Court to send you to prison for not paying. If the Magistrates Court believe that you either refused to pay or could have paid but did not, they can send you to prison for up to three months.
If we have sent you a committal information form you must fill this in and either pay in full or make an offer of payment. If you do not pay in full or return the form, we will send you a committal summons. This will give you a date and time to attend Magistrates Court. You will have to pay costs for this summons.
The magistrates will look at your income and spending and decide if you are, or have been, in a position to pay your council tax. The magistrates can order you to make payments or send you to prison for up to three months.
If you do not come to court, we will ask the magistrates for a warrant for your arrest. You will be charged for this. An enforcement officer will arrest you and take you to court. Again the magistrates can order you to make payments or send you to prison for up to three months.
In this serious situation it is clearly in your own interests to pay your council tax in full. If you cannot, and the magistrates order you to make payments you must pay exactly as ordered. If you do not you can be sent to prison. We do not wish to send people to prison and will only take this action as a last resort.
To discuss the arrears on your account please contact the billing and collection section on 01482 394747.
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If you receive a financial information form from us you must complete it fully, including your work details and send it back to us within 14 days. If you do not return it or only complete some of the details or give false information you can be fined up to £1000 and get a criminal record.
If you cannot complete it in time or need time to gather all of the information please contact us.
If you do not return the form, we can either use bailiffs to collect your debts, or send you a summons for not returning the form. You would have to pay the bailiffs fees, or run the risk of getting a criminal record. Top of page
You cannot talk to the court about these things because they are things which have to be put forward to a Valuation Tribunal (the Tribunal is not part of the council).
If you think your charge is wrong, contact the billing and collection section who will look into this for you. If they do not agree with you, they will tell you how to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.
If you have already written to the Valuation Tribunal and are waiting to hear about it, you still have to pay your council tax in full. If your appeal is successful, we will send you a refund if you have overpaid and do not owe any other council tax.
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We have sent you this because you have not paid your council tax exactly in line with your instalment plan. We have already sent you a reminder or final notice so the law says that we must now send you a summons for the whole balance on your account.
If you want to stop the case going before the Magistrates’ Court, you need to pay the full amount shown on the front of this summons, including the summons costs, before the hearing date.
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If you have not paid the full amount on the summons, including the summons costs by the hearing date we will ask the magistrates for a liability order. This will add extra costs to your bill. The liability order gives us certain powers, such as:
- we can arrange to take money out of your wage or benefit: and
- we can arrange for bailiffs to take away some of your belongings and sell them.
However we will consider making a payment arrangement with you and if you keep it exactly up to date, we will not use the full powers which the liability order gives us. If you cannot pay in full, please call us on 01482 394747 straight away.
You will need to give us details of your income and outgoings. If you are unable to call us, you can speak to council staff face to face in any of our customer service centres.
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You do not need to go to court if you just want to discuss a payment arrangement. This you can do by ringing us on 01482 394747 or calling in one of our customer service centres.
The Magistrates cannot make a payment arrangement with you. However staff from billing and collection will be at court 30 minutes before your hearing so you can speak to them then. However please make every effort to contact us before the hearing date as it can be very busy at court on the hearing date.
You may decide to attend court if you have a ‘valid defence’ to stop us applying for a liability order. There are two main defences which can do this:
- we have not followed the procedures set down in law when trying to collect your council tax; or;
- you have paid all of the overdue council tax within the time limit given on the last reminder or final notice sent to you.
If you think that you have one of these defences, please call us straightaway on (01482) 394747 so that we can look into it for you. We may tell you that you do not need to go to court.
You can speak to the court about these valid defences or you can get a solicitor to speak for you. You will need to provide evidence to back up what you say. The court cannot take into account any other reasons why you have not paid, even if you have been unable to pay. They cannot change the law and they must apply it as it stands.
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If you or your company owe more than £750 in council tax or business rates, and you have been already been summonsed to court where a liability order has been granted, we may start bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings against you. If we take this action, you will be sent a statutory demand which will give you 21 days to pay the full amount owed. If you receive a statutory demand, please contact us immediately. If you do not settle the statutory demand, a petition for bankruptcy or liquidation will be presented to court.
If a bankruptcy order is issued against you this will mean:
- your home could be sold to pay your debts;
- your bank accounts will be frozen;
- the official receiver will investigate your affairs;
- you will lose your credit rating and you will be blacklisted from getting credit;
- if you are declared bankrupt, the official receiver will control your spending for three years.
If a liquidation order is granted against your company:
- your company will be wound up by the official receiver.
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