How we recover Council Tax

  • We follow a set process to recover council tax, starting with sending you a bill
  • Pay as instructed and make your payments on, or before the due date
  • Paying within the month they are due will not always avoid recovery action
  • We will send you a reminder if you are behind with your payments
  • If you don't pay as instructed, you could lose the right to pay by instalments and the full amount for the year would be due immediately
  • If we have to send you a summons to the Magistrates Court, we will add costs for this action to your bill

Council tax recovery process

Liability orders

If you receive a liability order:

  • Contact us immediately: Contact Council Tax
  • Discuss your circumstances with us and agree a payment arrangement
  • complete and return the information requested on the liability order.

If you don't contact us, we can:

  • Request financial information from you about your household's income
  • Enforcement Agents (bailiffs) to visit your property to seize your goods for sale at public auction
  • Deduct money directly from your earnings
  • Deduct money from your income support or jobseekers allowance
  • Start bankruptcy proceedings in the County Court
  • Apply to the Magistrates' Court for you to be committed to prison for a maximum of 90 days

Adding costs to your bill

We add costs to your bill if we:

  • Apply to the Magistrates' Court to raise a summons for your outstanding account
  • Grant a liability order.

We may also add further costs if:

  • We need to use an alternative method to recover your debt.

Deducting money from your wage

  • Deducting money directly from your earnings is called an Attachment of Earnings Order
  • We don't need to contact you, but we do send you a copy of the Attachment of Earnings Order for your records
  • Once we know your employment details we send the order to your employer
  • They start deducting money from your next available wage
  • This attachment to earnings order does not affect your credit rating
  • To stop the deductions you must pay the amount due in full. You should also contact us so we can tell your employer to stop making deductions from your wage once your payment is received.
  • Advice guide: Creditor takes money from your wages

Deducting money from your benefits

  • We may deduct money directly from your income support or jobseekers allowance
  • We don't need to contact you to start the deductions
  • Once we know your income details we send the order to the benefits office
  • They start deducting money straight away
  • To stop the deductions you must pay the amount due in full. You should also contact us so we can tell the benefits office to stop making deductions from your benefits once your payment is received.

If you can't afford deductions from your wages or benefits

Tell us details of your household's income and expenditure and we will try to help you

Complete the income and expenditure form

Recovering council tax using Enforcement Agents (bailiffs)

  • Your liability order warns that Enforcement Agents may call after 14 days
  • Enforcement Agents can add costs as soon as they are instructed. They will send you a Notice of Enforcement giving you 7 days to make payment
  • Additional costs are added if an Enforcement Agent has to visit you home and further costs added if they have to remove your goods. Details are on the back of your liability order

When an Enforcement Agent visits your home

  • They cannot force entry, can only remove certain goods and can only remove enough to cover the amount of council tax you owe, plus their costs.
  • The law states the days and times they can enter, what they can take, the way they can secure your goods, the Notices they must leave and how your goods must be sold.
  • Bailiff powers when they visit your home
  • If you, or a responsible adult, aren't at home when they visit, they will leave a letter in a sealed envelope addressed to you, with details of your debt and the amount due, along with their name and telephone number.

Possession of your goods

  • Rather than remove goods immediately, the Enforcement Agent may take control of your goods and offer you a payment agreement. This is a Controlled Goods Agreement.

Controlled Goods Agreement

  • Lists the goods that the Enforcement Agent has taken control of. You keep your belongings but are prevented from removing or selling them.
  • Outlines the terms of the repayment agreement.
  • Allows the Enforcement Agent to return at a later date to remove your belongings if you fail to pay as agreed. You will be given 2 days notice of the Enforcement Agent's intention to re-enter your premises.
  • If you are not at home when the Enforcement Agent calls to remove your belongings, they have the legal right to force entry.

Removal of your belongings

  • If you can't pay in full, don't make a payment arrangement, or fail to pay as agreed, the Enforcement Agent may remove and sell enough of your belongings to settle the debt you owe.
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