Council powers

Power to seek information about income

Once we have a Liability Order we will send you a form asking you to supply details of your income and spending. You have two weeks to complete and return this to us.

This letter also contains details of what happens if your account is issued to an enforcement agent (bailiff) for them to collect the outstanding debt from you.

If you do not complete and return the income and expenditure form within two weeks, we can take further action against you.

Power to deduct money direct from earnings through an attachment of earnings order

If you’re working we can ask your employer to make deductions from your wages or salary to pay the amount you owe. The deductions are set by law and are taken as a percentage of your net earnings. These may vary from week to week or month to month, for instance if overtime is worked. The percentages are set out in law and neither the Council nor your employer can change these levels.

The table below shows the amount to be deducted from weekly and monthly earnings.

Net earnings per week

Net earnings per month

Deduction rate

Below £75

Below £300

No deduction can be made

£75 to £135

£300 to £550

3%

£135 to £185

£550 to £740

5%

£185 to £225

£740 to £900

7%

£225 to £355

£900 to £1,420

12%

£355 to £505

£1,420 to £2,020

17%

Above £505

Above £2,020

17% for the first £505/£2,020 and 50% for the remainder

For each deduction, your employer can take an extra £1 towards their administration costs. Deductions can be taken for two liability orders; a separate deduction is made for each. You must tell us in writing of any change in your employment within 14 days of it happening.

Power to refer the debt to appointed enforcement agents (bailiffs)

We only send cases to enforcement agents where:

  • No arrangement has been made or an arrangement has been made but not kept to, and/or
  • Alternative ways of collecting the amounts owed, such as deduction from benefit or attachment of earnings is not appropriate.

On receipt of the account, the enforcement agents will issue a letter asking you to contact them to make or discuss payment. They will be prepared to enter into a payment arrangement at this stage. However costs will be added to the amount you owe.

If you make an arrangement but then don’t make the agreed payments, the enforcement agents will ask to enter your home to make a list of the value of your belongings to go toward unpaid Council Tax and costs. They can then return to your home and take your belongings. They will sell them to repay the full amount you owe.

Enforcement agents:

  • Equita Ltd – 08705 566665
  • Ross & Roberts – 01458 271888

Power to declare someone bankrupt

If your total debt exceeds £5,000, we can apply to make you bankrupt. This means that any assets, such as property, shares or savings, may be used to clear your debts.

Costs involved in this action can be substantial but can be recovered from the person subject to the order. Because of the serious consequences of being declared bankrupt, such action is only taken where the enforcement agent has been unsuccessful in collecting the amounts owed.

Power to apply a charging order against property

A charging order is a way of securing the debt against your property. We can apply to the court for a charging order if you owe £1,000 or more for a property you own.

If you sell your home, you will have to repay the debt first, with interest, before you are given any of the sale proceeds.

Payments can still be made to reduce the debt. If the debt is paid in full, including costs, the charge will be removed.

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