Cost of living support

Colchester City Council is providing support for residents facing the cost of living crisis.


Court actions

Summons 

If you do not pay your Council Tax, we will ask the magistrates’ court to issue you with a summons. The summons will be sent to you through the post and will tell you of the date and time of the hearing. It will also tell you the full amount payable, including a summons cost of £57.50.  

If you do receive a summons, contact us immediately at court.action@colchester.gov.uk

If you pay your bill in full 

If the full payment including costs is made before the hearing date, no further action will be taken.  

If you do not pay your bill 

If you do not arrange to make payment in full including costs, a liability order may be issued by the magistrate’s court allowing us to take further action to recover the debt. 

Court hearing 

When you receive a summons letter, you must pay the amount in full. If it is not paid in full, we will make an application to the magistrates’ court for a liability order to be granted. A liability order is a court document that states that you owe Council Tax and gives us more powers to recover your Council Tax debt. 

Once a liability order is granted, a further cost of £35 will be payable.  

You do not need to attend the court, but you can call us on 01206 282300 before the hearing to discuss your account.  

The magistrates’ court cannot consider claims for Local Council Tax Support or appeals to the Valuation Tribunal.  

Attachment of earnings 

We can demand to have money taken from your wages. We will contact your employer, advise them of the amount outstanding and request them to make deductions based on government-set percentages. We are unable to change the amount deducted and your employer is legally required to comply.  

Attachment of benefits 

We can request that your payments are taken directly from your benefits, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit (UC). We are unable to change the amount deducted and the Department of Work and Pensions are legally required to comply.  

Enforcement agents 

We can send your account to one of our enforcement agents (bailiffs). We currently use four enforcement agencies: Jacobs, Rossendales, Rundles and Bristow and Sutor.  

The enforcement agents will add additional charges if no arrangement is agreed, therefore you should contact the agents as soon as you receive the first letter from them. We are unable to remove any costs or set arrangements with the agents so please do not contact us to discuss arrangements with the enforcement agents.  

Charging order 

If you own your property, we can apply to the County Court to have a charge placed against your home. The charging order will have to be paid if you sell the property. We can apply to the court to order you to sell your property to pay the balance.  

Bankruptcy  

We can apply to the County Court to have you made bankrupt. This is a very serious action that would affect your ability to get credit. You will be liable for solicitor costs and insolvency fees. 

Committal 

The law allows us to apply to the magistrates’ court to have a person sent to prison where there is ‘culpable neglect’ or ‘wilful refusal to pay’.  

This action is only taken in exceptional circumstances and if we have not been able to recover your payments.  The court may decide to send you to prison for up to 3 months if you do not have a good reason for not paying your Council Tax and you refuse to do so.  


 

Page last reviewed: 4 May 2020