Council Tax Arrears
If you have to pay Council Tax, it is really important to make it a priority for payment because not paying it can have serious consequences.
If you do not pay a Council Tax payment due on time, you will first receive a reminder requiring payment within seven days. If you fail to pay, the local authority can demand you pay the full amount for the year and also apply to a Magistrates’ Court for a liability order. If this happens, you have costs added to the debt.
Enforcement of a liability order includes, direct deduction from wages or benefits, or bailiffs taking certain assets from you to sell.
Bailiffs (Enforcement Agents)
Deduction from earnings
Deductions from benefits
Once a liability order has been made, the local authority can apply for a third party deduction from certain benefits if you receive them. The benefits they can take deductions from are; Income Support, Pension Credit, income-related or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based or contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit.
For debt of £1,000 or more, and if you own your own home, the local authority can apply to the County Court for a legal charge to be placed on the home of which you owe the council tax. This means the debt becomes secured on your home, and so may put our home at risk.
If you owe £5,000 or more the local authority can take steps to make you bankrupt. You could for example owe council tax going back over several years. If the local authority try to do this without considering other options first you could complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO): www.lgo.org.uk. You must complain to your local authority first though.
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO)
If you think that the local authority have not followed correct procedures or behaved appropriately you should send a letter of complaint. If you are not happy with their response or not heard back after twelve weeks you can escalate your complaint to the LGSCO. Visit www.lgo.org.uk to access an online complaint form or telephone them on 0300 061 0614 for help with making your complaint.