You don’t need to be told that it’s important to pay your council tax. At the beginning of the fiscal year, the council allows you to opt to pay what you owe in 10 monthly instalments.
Miss one and you’re in trouble. Miss two payments and they will demand the outstanding amount in full. And there’s worse.
If you cannot make up the arrears, the council will take you to court.
What is a Priority Debt?
Council tax is a Priority Debt. This is not just about it being an important priority for you. The courts also take any Priority Debt very seriously and they have strong legal powers of enforcement to get the arrears paid in full.
Priority debts are those involving council tax, court fines, tax, child support payments and utility bills. Mortgage repayments and rent is also considered a priority debt.
After that come other unsecured debts on credit cards, store cards, catalogues and unsecured loans. If you have to choose what to pay first, you should cover your priority debts and then work on the others.
If your local council forwards their claim to court, a Liability Order will be issued against you. This records the amount you owe and demands payment immediately.
If the debt remains unpaid, the court will issue an Enforcement Order and that’s when the bailiffs get involved.
Unfortunately, by this stage the debt will have grown. Court fees will be added and, if applicable, fees by the collection agency or bailiffs. Now it’s a big deal, and the clock is ticking.
What councils can do to get their money
Bailiffs are employed by the council to collect the outstanding money. There are various ways they can do this.
- If you’re employed, they can apply for an Attachment of Earnings which means your employer will be involved. A set amount will be taken from your wages until the debt is cleared. It can be embarrassing, and can even lead to dismissal.
- If you are on benefits, employment allowance or a state pension or universal credit, bailiffs can apply to have money deducted from these.
- A common option is for bailiffs to visit your home and seize your possessions to sell and recover the debt.
What you can do to sort out council tax debt
If you want to avoid any of the above unpleasant options, you need to get in touch with Aunt Meg at an early stage to get the problem sorted.
The earlier you contact us, the less court fees will be added. We have helpful counsellors who specialise in council tax debt and they can help you out of the dark hole you are in right now.
They will contact the council on your behalf and negotiate an affordable repayment plan, based on your income.
In some cases, they can arrange a lower settlement amount for a one-off cash payment.
Another way we can help is with an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA).
The sooner you have a free chat with our helpful advisors, the sooner we can help. Call us now and let’s talk about it!