Council Tax Arrears
If you experience difficulty paying your council tax, contact the Council Tax department immediately - don't wait until we send you a reminder.
Council tax billing process
- Each year we issue you with a council tax bill which tells you how much you need to pay and when.
- You need to pay your council tax on, or before, the due dates shown on your annual bill or most recent adjustment notice.
- if you get behind with your council tax payments or get into arrears, we'll send a reminder letter showing how much you need to pay to bring your account up to date
- we will not issue any more than two reminders in each financial year
- if you do not pay, or you bring your account up to date but fail to make future payments on time, you will lose the right to pay by instalments and the full charge will become due
- if you don't pay the full charge, a summons will be issued and we will take action through the Magistrates' Court to obtain a liability order against you
- all costs (£98.00) associated with issuing a summons notice and obtaining a liability order will be added to your bill
Do I have to go to court?
You don't have to be at court - but the magistrates will still hear your case whether you're there or not. The court can't deal with benefits issues or disputes over liability, discounts or exemptions.
What are Liability Orders?
Once a Liability Order is granted by the court, it gives us certain powers to recover the money you owe us.
These powers could allow us to:
- deduct money straight from your wages.
- deduct money from your benefits.
- get enforcement agents to remove goods from your home and sell them to cover the amount you owe.
What happens next?
If the sum due is not paid in full you will receive a summons to the Magistrates Court and costs of £48.00 will be added to your account.
At the Magistrates Court, South Staffordshire Council will apply for a Liability Order and further costs of £50.00 will be added to the debt. A Liability Order gives the Council the right to take further action to collect any money outstanding.
Special Payment Arrangement
If you would like to make a special payment arrangement to clear the debt at this stage then you need to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on (01902) 696669.
Whilst the payment arrangement is in place and you continue to pay on time, no further recovery action will be taken. However, if you default on the arrangement, it will be cancelled and we will look to take further recovery action.
If a mutually agreed payment arrangement has not been made by this point, South Staffordshire Council will pass the debt to our Enforcement Agents for collection. If you are unable to offer a reasonable payment plan to the Enforcement Agents they have the power to collect the debt by taking control of goods. (Charges will be added to your account).
The Council employs the following Enforcement Companies:-
Bristow & Sutor Ltd
Bartleet Road, Washford, Redditch , Worcestershire, B98 0FL
Tel: 0871 677 0070
53 Northampton Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9HB
Tel: 08456 585030
The Enforcement Agent process:-
- The enforcement agent administration stage is where the enforcement agent starts initial contact with the debtor. This results in administration fees (£75), but allows the debtor a period of notice to come to a payment arrangement.
- The next stage is the enforcement stage and involves visiting the debtor's property. This attracts a set fee (£235.00) to cover all work at enforcement stage plus a further percentage fee (7.5%) for debts over a certain value (£1500).
- If goods are seized, the sale of goods stage attracts further costs including fees (£110) to cover the removal of goods and the costs of re-selling them, plus a further percentage fee (7.5%) for debts above a certain value.
If the Enforcement Agents are unsuccessful in collecting the debt then South Staffordshire Council could commence action to make you bankrupt, or make an application for you to be committed to prison or obtain a charging order at the County Court.
County Court Action
The Council can apply to the County Court for help to recover Council Tax, where repayment has not been made and other methods of recovery have failed.
The Council can secure the debt against your home. This is called a charging order and means that you could lose your home if you don't keep up the repayments.
A charging order allows the Council to levy a “charge" on your property in order to recover Council Tax arrears. Once a liability order has been obtained, and providing the outstanding council tax debt is over £1,000.00, the Council can apply to a county court for a charging order against your property. This agreement will include any future council tax due, plus interest.
If granted, the Council will be entitled to receive the outstanding amount of arrears if the property is sold (subject to there being sufficient equity remaining after charges of a higher priority are redeemed, e.g. mortgage). Also loans cannot be taken out against the property until the debt is paid off.
The county court is empowered to order the sale of the property if you do not pay, or do not come to an arrangement to pay, the outstanding Council Tax arrears.
If you are having financial difficulties the Citizens Advice Bureau have money advisers who are available to discuss debt issues.
The National Debt line provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems.
Step Change Debt Charity - can help overcome debt problems. Unlike companies that charge a fee to manage people's debts, the charity's advice is completely free.
If you require further assistance, please contact the Council Tax Department by email: email@example.com or by telephone: 01902 696664
If you would like to register for self-service where you can access information on your Council Tax account please follow this link:- self service