Richmondshire District Council

Help with debt problems: Free friendly expert advice can be found from leading debt organisations.

 

If you're having problems paying your council tax, let us know straight away as you may be entitled to a council tax exemption, discount or relief that would reduce the amount you pay - contact us at local.taxation@richmondshire.gov.uk 

If you're on a low income, you may be eligible for council tax reduction

If you don't pay your council tax, we follow a process to recover what is owed.


Reminders and final notices

If you haven't paid your instalment by the due date, we'll issue you with a reminder, which means you have to pay within seven days.

If you still don’t pay, a summons will be issued, which will add costs to your account.

If you pay the amount you owe but fall behind with your instalments again we will send a second reminder. This gives you seven days to bring your instalments up to date. If you still don’t pay, a summons will be issued, which will add costs to your account.

We can only send a maximum of two reminder notices in any one financial year, so if you pay late a third time you will be sent a final notice for the full amount of council tax due for the rest of the year, and you will lose your right to pay in instalments.


Summons and court orders

If you fail to pay after we have sent you a reminder or final notice we will issue you with a summons. If this is not paid in full before the hearing, we will apply for a liability order.

Before the hearing, we'll be willing to discuss a mutually acceptable payment arrangement but this will be on the understanding that we continue with the legal action. We'll still attend the hearing to ask the magistrates to grant a liability order. The magistrates won't discuss settlement of your account. So unless you wish to defend against our application, you don't have to attend court. If you do attend, arrive at least 15 minutes before the hearing time so that a member of the local taxation team can interview you.


The hearing

If the magistrates are satisfied with the evidence we present, they will grant a liability order. This gives us powers to recover the outstanding debt using other methods.


Costs

For 2018-19, the cost for the issue of a summons is £47 and for obtaining a liability order £25, a total of £72. These costs cover the extra work involved in issuing the summons and attending court.


Liability order

Once a liability order has been granted we are given extra powers to recover the outstanding debt.

These include:

Request for financial information

We can now request that you, or anyone else named on the order, provide their financial details within 14 days.

Attachment of earnings order

We can instruct your employer to make deductions directly from your pay. The amounts depend on how much you earn.

Deductions from your benefits

We can request weekly deductions of £3.70 from your:

  • Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit (PCGC)

Enforcement agents

If you don't contact us providing either an acceptable offer of payment, employment details, or details of your entitlement to state benefits, we will pass your case over to our enforcement agents for collection. They can call at your home to take control of your goods, and to remove and ultimately sell them at public auction. Any money raised will be used to clear the debt.

Once agents are instructed to collect the debt, you will have to pay additional fees. We strongly recommend that you engage with us, rather than letting it get this far.

After agents have been instructed you will no longer be able to discuss matters with us and must contact them instead.

Contact details for our agents can be found on their websites:


Charging order

If the debt is more than £999, we can make an application to the County Court to impose a security against the value of your house. This will be paid to us when it's eventually sold.

Bankruptcy

We may start bankruptcy proceedings if the debt is more than £4,999.

We will send a statutory demand that will give you 21 days to pay the full amount. If you don't pay, we will petition for bankruptcy in the County Court. Once issued with a bankruptcy order, the official receiver will investigate your affairs and your bank account, or accounts, will be frozen.

If you're made bankrupt, the official receiver will control your spending, you'll lose your credit rating and be blacklisted from getting any more credit. You could even be forced to sell your home to pay your debts.

Committal to prison for non-payment

If we can't recover the unpaid council tax by other means, we will have no alternative but to apply to the local magistrate for a committal summons. This is the first stage of possible imprisonment. If you receive a committal summons, you should contact us straight away or get legal advice from a solicitor, your local law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau.


Collection rates

We consistently collect more than 98% of council tax each year and the recovery of any outstanding debts is vigorously pursued.


Where to get help

If you're struggling with debt, there is help available.

The independent Money Advice Service provides a wealth of online information on how to budget. A new free online service has been launched to help people to manage their debts.

Information is provided about partner organisations that can help, such as the National Debtline and the StepChange Debt Charity as well as telephone services that allow you to speak to an expert adviser.

The face-to-face debt advice search tool allows you to type in your location and find local organisations that give free advice on managing finances and dealing with debt.

A to Z of Services