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Court Summons for Non-Payment of Council Tax
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# 1
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 1:24 PM
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Default Court Summons for Non-Payment of Council Tax

my husband and I have been summoned to court later this month for non-payment of council tax. The amount owed is relatively low (£200) but since my husband lost his job in the summer we have been struggling with out finances, and unfortunately have been unable to pay the last month or so of our council tax, we have always paid before, but since hitting financial troubles have fallen behind, yet the council dont care about that, they just summon us to court. Its all a mess, my husband is currently awaiting for a tribunal hearing (he was unfairly dismissed) and life is getting so hard.

Does anyone have experience of being taken to court for non payment of council tax, and if so, what can we expect to happen? We arent refusing to pay, its just that we dont have enough money, its all very worrying and upsetting.

Thanks in anticipation x
what goes around, comes around...........
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# 2
CIS
Old 13-02-2011, 1:31 PM
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Quote:
we have always paid before, but since hitting financial troubles have fallen behind, yet the council dont care about that, they just summon us to court. Its all a mess, my husband is currently awaiting for a tribunal hearing (he was unfairly dismissed) and life is getting so hard.
The council are working in line with the statutory legislation they have to work under with regards to the council tax collection.


The court summons is to gain a liability order - you don't need to physically attend court.

The liability order is given on the basis that you are the person who owes the money and it hasn't been paid - the order cant be disputed on the basis of financial difficulty.

Once the order has been granted the council can start to use formal recovery action to collect any balance outstanding - this can include bailiff action, attachment of benefit/earning, bankruptcy and (ultimately) committal to prison.

For £200 the council can instruct a bailiff so your best bet is to contact them and try to make a payment arrangement with them. This is more likely at this stage as they have the powers to collect the money if you don't keep to an arrangement.

Have you checked if your eligible for council tax benefit. ?
I work in Council Tax Recovery however my views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
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# 3
Mrs Arcanum
Old 13-02-2011, 1:36 PM
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Council Tax is one of the priority debts you must pay & they are generally very quick to add court fees for late or non payment. Paying something and explaining your situation may have avoided this. However unless you now qualify for Council Tax benefit and do actually claim you will have to pay.

Even if you can pay something now it may avoid a court appearance. Though you will probably still have to pay the court fees.

Last edited by Mrs Arcanum; 13-02-2011 at 1:38 PM.
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# 4
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 1:37 PM
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we did try to claim, but they aid we wasnt entitled, which I thought strange as we are in receipt of tax credits and free prescriptions cos of being on a low income. We dont have anything of value for the bailiffs to seize, our tv is an old second hand one, our car was made in 1991, its not as if we have anything of value, its so worrying, if I went to court, will I be able to try and arrange some payment plan on the day, it wont be much though as we dont have any money left by the Tuesday (hubby gets paid on a Friday, and we pay the mortgage, gas, electricity and its gone) - my mum has been subsidising us with food and petrol money. Maybe we could offer £5 a week or something
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# 5
asp746
Old 13-02-2011, 1:39 PM
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this happened to me a few years go. it's quite informal so don't worry. there'll be a council official there and they'll just want to confirm that you owe the amount and how you're going to pay it back.

last thing magistrates want to do is slap a fine on someone who's already trying to pay or cant' pay. they might do an attachment on your benefits so it comes out of that at £5 per week.

honestly don't worry.
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# 6
chesky369
Old 13-02-2011, 1:43 PM
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Contact your local council and try to set up a repayment plan. If you are worried about talking to them, go to your local CAB and get them to call on your behalf.
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# 7
Mrs Arcanum
Old 13-02-2011, 1:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spring chicken View Post
we did try to claim, but they aid we wasnt entitled, which I thought strange as we are in receipt of tax credits and free prescriptions cos of being on a low income. We dont have anything of value for the bailiffs to seize, our tv is an old second hand one, our car was made in 1991, its not as if we have anything of value, its so worrying, if I went to court, will I be able to try and arrange some payment plan on the day, it wont be much though as we dont have any money left by the Tuesday (hubby gets paid on a Friday, and we pay the mortgage, gas, electricity and its gone) - my mum has been subsidising us with food and petrol money. Maybe we could offer £5 a week or something
Even going and making an arrangement direct with the council ASAP will avoid attending court. It will save you the court visit & the council will be happy you are trying to pay something. They may even be able to help further.
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# 8
McKneff
Old 13-02-2011, 1:52 PM
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I dont mean to sound harsh, but you cant pay your council tax (as said before, its priority) but you run a car,( its irrelevant how old it is) presumably you have the internet, computer. Do you have mobile phones,
Sell the car, the computer, and anything else you can, they are far less priority than your council tax.
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# 9
CIS
Old 13-02-2011, 1:57 PM
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last thing magistrates want to do is slap a fine on someone who's already trying to pay or cant' pay. they might do an attachment on your benefits so it comes out of that at £5 per week.
There is no fine from the magistrate - the magistrate simply grants the liability order and the costs charged by the council. In this case he cant refuse the order although if the council agree they may adjourn it to a later date if there's a valid reason.

The recovery rate from an attachment of benefit for council tax purposes is £3.30 p/w - the OP doesn't appear to be on an attachable benefit.
I work in Council Tax Recovery however my views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
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# 10
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 2:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asp746 View Post
this happened to me a few years go. it's quite informal so don't worry. there'll be a council official there and they'll just want to confirm that you owe the amount and how you're going to pay it back.

last thing magistrates want to do is slap a fine on someone who's already trying to pay or cant' pay. they might do an attachment on your benefits so it comes out of that at £5 per week.

honestly don't worry.
thanks for that, I have been worrying, we get some tax credits as the job my husband does now is low paid, just looked on the council tax benefit calculator page, but its says we arent eligible for help. It is so annoying though, because we have a mortgage, we receive no help towards the cost of that, yet the council tax benefit calculator doesnt allow us to include the cost of our £98 per week mortgage payments, which takes half of the money my hubby brings home each week
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# 11
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 2:17 PM
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Originally Posted by McKneff View Post
I dont mean to sound harsh, but you cant pay your council tax (as said before, its priority) but you run a car,( its irrelevant how old it is) presumably you have the internet, computer. Do you have mobile phones,
Sell the car, the computer, and anything else you can, they are far less priority than your council tax.

without the car my husband wouldnt be able to get to work (its a 30 minute drive each way) - and without the computer I wouldnt be able to work (I work from home) - so they are not luxuries, we have to have them or else neither of us would be able to work at all. I dont have anything of any value to sell, my phone is just a pay and go one (again, needed for work as we need a mobile due to the nature of the work I do) - maybe we both could sell a kidney each?
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# 12
BigCraigJohn
Old 13-02-2011, 2:33 PM
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Why not sell your bodies round the red light while your at it, any children you could flog?(all said with tongue in cheek)
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# 13
HappyMJ
Old 13-02-2011, 2:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spring chicken View Post
maybe we both could sell a kidney each?
I wouldn't do that...

Seriously though you need to reduce your mortgage repayments from £98 per week to an affordable level. Is it an interest only mortgage?
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# 14
McKneff
Old 13-02-2011, 4:20 PM
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Why not post an SOA then and we can maybe help you to reduce your outgoings.

If both of you are working and you cant afford your council tax something is drastically wrong.

Im a pensioner and still manage to pay mine so it has got to be your outgoings that need looking at.
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# 15
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 4:56 PM
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Originally Posted by HappyMJ View Post
I wouldn't do that...

Seriously though you need to reduce your mortgage repayments from £98 per week to an affordable level. Is it an interest only mortgage?

That is a reduced mortgage payment (interest only) I made an agreement with our mortgage lender as soon as I realised we would have difficulty in meeting the payments.
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# 16
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 5:23 PM
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Originally Posted by McKneff View Post
Why not post an SOA then and we can maybe help you to reduce your outgoings.

If both of you are working and you cant afford your council tax something is drastically wrong.

Im a pensioner and still manage to pay mine so it has got to be your outgoings that need looking at.

Ok, erm not sure how to set this out but coming in each week we have (after tax)

hubbys wage - £220
my wage - £50
tax credits £50
child beneft £20

which amounts to £340


then each week going out we have

mortgage £98
Gas £20
Electric £20 (both are key meters)
petrol - £30
Toll bridge costs - £15
School bus fares - £12
TV Licence - £2.78
Broadband and phone package (work) - £15
Home phone - £10
Mobiles x 3 = £6
Water - £12
Sewage - £9
credit card bills - £30
catalogue - £5
Insurance - £10
car insurance £5
car breakdown cover - £3
council tax - £31

by my maths, that alone comes to £322 per week, and thats before food, and other things I need to list (boiler breakdown cover, food, etc)

People may say, that we are living beyond our means, which is true, but up until June, my husband was earning more than double he is now, and therefore, we were comfortably off, unfortunately now he has lost his job, we just cant manage anymore, we cant just magic away any debts that we already had, for instance we had a huge vets bill before he lost him job, and although we have pet insurance, the vets wanted payment up front before the operation, so we had to put it on hubs credit card, unfortunately, the insurance company only paid back half of the vets bill. Its all very well being wise after the event, and hindsight would be a wonderful thing, but sadly, its not a gift I have.
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# 17
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 5:25 PM
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Oh also, we thought we were being wise when we took out insurance to cover us in the event of unemployment, but because my husband was dismissed from work (even though it is unfair dismissal, and will be proven in court) the insurance wouldnt pay out
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Old 13-02-2011, 5:37 PM
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spring chicken,

You have a tetchy 'we are victims' attitude which doesn't do you much credit, but ultimately matters not on here.

But it will matter in your dealings with the court and other lenders, if that's what it comes to.

Whether you like it or not, you are asking people in these organisations to forego what they are entitled to and help you.

Show a bit of humility to them, and they are more likely to do what you want.
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# 19
spring chicken
Old 13-02-2011, 5:48 PM
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spring chicken,

You have a tetchy 'we are victims' attitude which doesn't do you much credit, but ultimately matters not on here.

But it will matter in your dealings with the court and other lenders, if that's what it comes to.

Whether you like it or not, you are asking people in these organisations to forego what they are entitled to and help you.

Show a bit of humility to them, and they are more likely to do what you want.
what are you talking about? am I supposed to be over the moon whats happened to us since last summer? We thought we were covered for any eventualities, but without going on and on about my husband being dimissed unfairly, and yes we do have a filing cabinet full of evidence to back this, the insurance policies we took out, wont pay out cos of his dismissal! I love the way you assume I am showing a "tetchy" , "we are victims" attitude - its a living nightmare, I am scared of the postman putting another demand through the door, and wont answer my door if I am not expecting someone in case its a debt collector. But you just go ahead and poke fun in how worried I am, thats ok, as long as it makes you feel good.
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# 20
rugbychick81
Old 13-02-2011, 5:49 PM
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All of your utilities seem high ... can you reduce your usage?

I know people consider their pets as family - and I know this would be a last resort - but have you considered re-homing?

Why do you have three mobiles? Can you reduce to two?
Jan 2012 - £4275

Dec 2012 - £1445

Car/deposit left to sort :-)
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