If you fail to pay your Council Tax arrears and do not contact the Council to discuss any issues or difficulties you may have your liability order will be sent to the Enforcement Agents as a last resort.
The Council uses three Enforcement Agents:
Once the liability order has been passed to the Enforcement Agent company, the Council will no longer be able to set up a payment arrangement with you for this debt because the Enforcement Agents are handling the case. You will need to contact the Enforcement Agent company to discuss this.
If the Enforcement Agents identify customers, who, because of their circumstances may be seen as vulnerable, they will return the case back to the Council.
If the Enforcement Agent cannot collect the debt, or there are insufficient goods to remove, the account will be returned back to the Council for further recovery action.
If you owe more than £5,000, the Council may start taking action against you to recover the debt via bankruptcy proceedings.
A statutory demand will be sent, giving you 21 days to pay the balance in full. Once you have received this demand, you need to act immediately by contacting the solicitors who the Council have instructed to act on their behalf. If you ignore this letter, a petition for bankruptcy in the High Court will be applied for.
If the Council issue bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings this means you may:
- meet with the official receiver and if appointed a trustee who will thoroughly investigate your affairs
- have any business you own closed immediately
- lose any assets of real value including your home and life insurance
- lose any assets you may acquire during the term of your bankruptcy such as inheritances, insurance settlements, growth of asset value in your home
- have your building society, creditors and landlords informed immediately
- have all bank accounts and credit cards closed. No United Kingdom bank will give bankrupts any sort of bank account
- anything you are leasing or buying on hire purchase will be immediately returned to the owner
- lose professional and business status, have some employment opportunities prejudiced, face rejection from associations and societies
- be refused credit for years after your bankruptcy discharge
- your trustee will have to settle every debt, whether it is in order or not
If you own your home and your Council Tax arrears are £1,000 or more, the Council can apply for a charging order to be secured against your property. This order can be enforced and if payment is not made, the property can be repossessed and sold to pay off your Council Tax arrears.
The Council uses two companies to manage these cases:
- Wilkin Chapman – telephone 01472 262773
- Ward Hadaway – telephone 0191 201 4000
If you have received a letter from these companies, contact them immediately.
Debt agencies that can help
If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, telephone the Council Tax department on 0345 302 2317 to discuss the matter.
A list of organisations that can provide help and advice:
- Citizen’s Advice
- The Money Advice Service
- StepChange Debt Charity
- National Debtline
- Civil Legal Advice (CLA)
We may share your information with other Council departments and government agencies to prevent and/or detect fraud and for the purpose of debt recovery.
The Council Tax Budget information for 2019/20 can be viewed at Council Tax 2019 to 2020 (PDF, 2.77MB)