A liability order gives us powers to recover the money you owe. These are:
To request information
The person(s) named on the liability order must supply information to us regarding their employment and income details. It is a criminal offence not to supply this information once requested, or to give false information.
To attach earnings
We can order your employer to take money from your wages or salary. This is then sent to us to pay your debt.
Your employer must tell you each time an amount is deducted and they can charge you for making these deductions. It is an offence for your employer not to comply with the order.
To make deductions from income support / job seekers allowance
We can ask the Benefit Agency to take money from your Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance. This is sent to us to pay your debt.
We can apply to the County Court for a legal charge to be put on your property for the amount due. We will automatically receive the money, plus costs, when the property is sold.
Bankruptcy / insolvency.
We can start these proceedings against you through the County Court.
Taking control of goods to pay a debt (removal of goods to pay a debt).
We employ Enforcement Agents (bailiffs) to collect the debt. More costs will be added to your debt. In some circumstances your goods may be removed and sold.
Enforcement Agents are authorised with a certificate from the Courts. They are instructed to collect both Council Tax and Business Rates by the Council and act under a formal code of conduct.
They make visits to properties to collect the unpaid Council Tax or Business Rates. They can accept payments in a wide range of forms including cash, bankers draft, credit cards etc. Where they do not receive payment they can remove goods which can be sold at public auction.
They can in certain circumstances take possession of goods but leave them on the premises while an arrangement is agreed and paid.
If your debt is passed to our Enforcement Agents then you will immediately incur a £75 fixed fee for each liability order passed to them. This fee has been set by The Ministry of Justice, not the council, and is non-negotiable.
Before an Enforcement Agent visits your property, you will receive at least one letter by post giving you the opportunity to agree a repayment plan with them to avoid an Enforcement Agent visiting you. At this stage the £75 fixed fee is already in place on your account and will need to be included in the repayment plan.
Enforcement Agent visits
If you do not contact the Enforcement Agents Office to agree a repayment plan, or you fail to pay the plan you agreed, then you will be visited at your home by an Enforcement Agent.
As soon as an agent is instructed to visit, a £235.00 fixed fee (plus 7.5% if the debt is over £1500) will be applied to the outstanding amount. This fee has been set by The Ministry of Justice, not the council, and is non-negotiable.
During the visit, you will be asked to make payment in full (including the £235.00 fee), enter into a controlled goods agreement or goods can be removed from your property.
Controlled goods agreement
You may be given the opportunity to set up a repayment plan by entering into a controlled goods agreement. This involves the Enforcement Agent making a list of your goods equal in value to the debt outstanding to secure the payment arrangement. You must not dispose of or sell any goods on the controlled goods agreement until your debt is paid in full.
Removal of goods
If you do not sign the controlled goods agreement, or you fail to pay the plan you agreed, then the Enforcement Agent can enter your property and remove goods. There is an additional £110 fee (plus 7.5% for any balance over £1500) if goods are removed for sale. Goods that are removed will be sold at auction. If a debt still remains after this, then the Enforcement Agent will contact you and further enforcement action can take place. If the goods are sold for more than the outstanding debt, then the credit can be returned to you.
The Council instructs a company called Duke Bailiffs who can be contacted as follows:
Dukes Bailiffs Ltd,
7/8 Newcastle street
Telephone: 01785 825500. Website.
Committal to prison.
Unlike almost every other debt, you can be sent to prison for up to three months for not paying your council tax.
Even if you have other debts where you are being pressed for payment, it is vital that you make payment of your council tax a priority.
If you have problems paying your council tax please contact us - we may be able to make a special arrangement with you. You may be entitled to benefits - try the online benefit calculator, visit our benefit section to see if there is anything you can claim.