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  • FIRST POST
    • Impeachabull
    • By Impeachabull 11th Jul 18, 9:58 AM
    • 5Posts
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    Impeachabull
    Council tax bill
    • #1
    • 11th Jul 18, 9:58 AM
    Council tax bill 11th Jul 18 at 9:58 AM
    Hi all,

    Apologies for starting a new thread as my first post, and I hope I'm posting in the right place.

    I made a fairly major oversight last year and incorrectly set up a direct debit to pay my council tax. As a result, my council tax for 2017 went unpaid until May of this year. On the 30th of May 2018, I rectified that and paid the full 2017 council tax bill to the Council. The full bill included two additional charges (one for 20 and one for 75) which I now believe relate to debt collection fees.

    Since May I have reestablished my direct debit and instalments have left my account in accordance with the schedule the Council set me.

    My problem is, since May, I have repeatedly been contacted by a debt collection firm called Equita asking for the 2017 bill to be paid. Yesterday I received a hand-delivered letter from a bailiff threatening repossession if the bill wasn't paid.

    Is my best course of action to contact the Council to ask them to call the Equita dogs off? I am also concerned that Equita is going to attempt to pursue the enforcement fee charge of 235 even though I settled the bill long before a visit to my home was required. Do I have much hope of avoiding this?

    Thanks for any and all help!
Page 1
    • marliepanda
    • By marliepanda 11th Jul 18, 11:16 AM
    • 6,562 Posts
    • 14,104 Thanks
    marliepanda
    • #2
    • 11th Jul 18, 11:16 AM
    • #2
    • 11th Jul 18, 11:16 AM
    Definitely contact the council.
    • Impeachabull
    • By Impeachabull 11th Jul 18, 11:23 AM
    • 5 Posts
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    Impeachabull
    • #3
    • 11th Jul 18, 11:23 AM
    • #3
    • 11th Jul 18, 11:23 AM
    Thanks, that makes the most sense.

    I've emailed their recovery team who warn of a ten-day delay in returning emails! I've tried calling them but was left on hold for around 30 minutes this morning. I'll try again later in the day.
  • National Debtline
    • #4
    • 11th Jul 18, 12:01 PM
    • #4
    • 11th Jul 18, 12:01 PM
    Hi Impeachabull


    You could do with some sort of timeline being provided by Equita in order to have a clearer picture. The moment the debt was passed to them by the council - which was presumably some time before you realised what had happened and settled up on 30/5/18 - they will have added on a 75 "compliance stage" fee. The council ought to have paid this on to Equita in full out of the 30/5/18 payment you made; whether they actually did so remains to be seen.

    If there was still a debt legitimately owed to Equita by the time they visited - even if it was just this 75 fee - then the extra 235 enforcement stage fee is likely to be valid, alas, but let's not drawn any firm conclusions until you've been able to get more information from them.


    I should add in the meantime that Equita's agents have no power to break into your home, so please don't grant them entry, and ensure any vehicles you own are parked out of their sight in the event of any return visits. Any such visits don't attract further fees.



    Dennis
    @natdebtline
    Last edited by National Debtline; 11-07-2018 at 12:03 PM.
    We work as money advisers for National Debtline and have specific permission from MSE to post to try to help those in debt. Read more information on National Debtline in MSE's Debt Problems: What to do and where to get help guide. If you find you're struggling with debt and need further help try our online advice tool My Money Steps
    • Impeachabull
    • By Impeachabull 11th Jul 18, 12:36 PM
    • 5 Posts
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    Impeachabull
    • #5
    • 11th Jul 18, 12:36 PM
    • #5
    • 11th Jul 18, 12:36 PM
    Thanks very much for your reply. Really useful information which I will abide by!

    I can see this timeline on my online council tax account. As a new user, I can't post links. But, if you have the inclination, the timeline is here: imgur.com/a/63MULao

    I have just edited out some personal information there. At the bottom of the screen, you can see charges for 70 and 25. Those were paid on the 30/5. At that time, there was no 235 fee. I have letters from Equita long after the 30/5 which do not include the 235 fee.

    I'm going to sit on hold as long as it takes to get through to the council this afternoon, so hopefully, the matter will be sorted then.

    Thanks again!
    • CIS
    • By CIS 11th Jul 18, 1:00 PM
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    CIS
    • #6
    • 11th Jul 18, 1:00 PM
    • #6
    • 11th Jul 18, 1:00 PM
    you can see charges for 70 and 25. Those were paid on the 30/5.
    Those fees would be the council's summons and liability order fees rather than the enforcement agents.

    Once the liability order has been obtained the council can instruct an enforcement agent the same day if they wish - that incurs the 75 immediately - so it looks like the instruction of the agents happened before you paid the balance. Over the years I've seen this happen hundreds of times and it is the most likely thing that happened but there are a few other issues which could have led to the same outcome.



    The council should be able to provide the full time line to you.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • ThisIsMe
    • By ThisIsMe 11th Jul 18, 1:36 PM
    • 27 Posts
    • 15 Thanks
    ThisIsMe
    • #7
    • 11th Jul 18, 1:36 PM
    • #7
    • 11th Jul 18, 1:36 PM
    Good luck, don't just give in and pay it tho.......

    A few years ago i had a council tax account go to court and go to the bailiffs. It was when the 100% council tax support ended by law, and the 75% council tax support started. I had no idea i was meant to be paying it and as we had a shared letter box i never got any of the paperwork.

    The bailiff who came was a women called Mrs Wood, really friendly women. She came in and sat down (I didn't know anything about bailifts at this point), she asked if i could pay it and noticed how shocked i was, I explained i had no idea about any of this. She said part of her job was to tell apart those who wont pay, from those who can't pay, and i was a can't pay.

    She sent the account back to the council and they contacted me by phone. They cancelled all the extra fees and i started to pay 4 per week for the current year, plus 1 per week for the debt.

    If you get the correct staff member they will help. Even tho this was years ago when i call now to make my monthly payment i still speak to that one manager to make my payment. Just because I've built up a rapport with her.
    • CIS
    • By CIS 11th Jul 18, 2:13 PM
    • 10,682 Posts
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    CIS
    • #8
    • 11th Jul 18, 2:13 PM
    • #8
    • 11th Jul 18, 2:13 PM
    Good luck, don't just give in and pay it tho.......

    A few years ago i had a council tax account go to court and go to the bailiffs. It was when the 100% council tax support ended by law, and the 75% council tax support started. I had no idea i was meant to be paying it and as we had a shared letter box i never got any of the paperwork.

    The bailiff who came was a women called Mrs Wood, really friendly women. She came in and sat down (I didn't know anything about bailifts at this point), she asked if i could pay it and noticed how shocked i was, I explained i had no idea about any of this. She said part of her job was to tell apart those who wont pay, from those who can't pay, and i was a can't pay.

    She sent the account back to the council and they contacted me by phone. They cancelled all the extra fees and i started to pay 4 per week for the current year, plus 1 per week for the debt.

    If you get the correct staff member they will help. Even tho this was years ago when i call now to make my monthly payment i still speak to that one manager to make my payment. Just because I've built up a rapport with her.
    Originally posted by ThisIsMe

    Effectively the enforcement agent decided it wasn't worth their time - at the council I worked with we got similar cases relatively regularly.



    If it was going to take too long to get payment and they didn't think there were sufficient assets the enforcement agents weren't interested in hanging on to the cases and wanted rid of it. They'd generally frame it in a polite way to the debtor but it was motivated by a time/cost decision from enforcement agent, not usually because they were being nice. The fees back then for the enforcement agents were far lower, 42.50, where as now they are up to 310 so they are less keen on dropping cases if they think they can get payment.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • Impeachabull
    • By Impeachabull 11th Jul 18, 3:40 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Impeachabull
    • #9
    • 11th Jul 18, 3:40 PM
    • #9
    • 11th Jul 18, 3:40 PM
    Hi all,

    After around an hour on hold listening to acoustic guitar music, I was just about ready to hand Equita the shirt on my back.

    However, after speaking to the Council, they acknowledged that the bill had been paid on the 30/5. Of course, they hadn't informed Equita of this so they called them while I waited on the phone to inform them of the payment. They also agreed to remove the 235 fee since it was incurred after the bill was paid!

    I, therefore, owe Equita 75 which I fully intend to pay since it seems to be a legitimate cost that was caused by my own fault. Unfortunately, nobody is currently answering Equita's phone.

    Thanks for all your help; it was really appreciated. You really do all provide an invaluable service for people who are pretty distressed!
    • CIS
    • By CIS 11th Jul 18, 3:58 PM
    • 10,682 Posts
    • 6,189 Thanks
    CIS
    However, after speaking to the Council, they acknowledged that the bill had been paid on the 30/5. Of course, they hadn't informed Equita of this so they called them while I waited on the phone to inform them of the payment. They also agreed to remove the 235 fee since it was incurred after the bill was paid!
    When did they pass the case to Equita ? Presumably prior to 30 May.

    I don't miss the days of trying to deal with Equita to sort queries (They were sometimes exceedingly difficult even when dealing the council who were instructing them...)


    The non-notification of payment was one of the other reasons I was alluding to - it's a good result however as it's a bit of a grey area as to whether or not the council should have passed 75 of your payment to the enforcement agent for their fees when you made the payment and then continued with collecting the resultant council tax balance.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • Impeachabull
    • By Impeachabull 11th Jul 18, 4:04 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Impeachabull
    The Council told me that they'd passed it over to Equita on the 2nd May. Although, the enforcement agent stated in a text message that "this account isn't with the Council and hasn't been since the 5th April". So I'm not sure what caused the discrepancy in those dates?
    Last edited by Impeachabull; 11-07-2018 at 4:08 PM.
    • ThisIsMe
    • By ThisIsMe 11th Jul 18, 4:21 PM
    • 27 Posts
    • 15 Thanks
    ThisIsMe
    Well done, sounds like you spoke to a helpful member of staff
    • CIS
    • By CIS 11th Jul 18, 4:29 PM
    • 10,682 Posts
    • 6,189 Thanks
    CIS
    The Council told me that they'd passed it over to Equita on the 2nd May. Although, the enforcement agent stated in a text message that "this account isn't with the Council and hasn't been since the 5th April". So I'm not sure what caused the discrepancy in those dates?
    Originally posted by Impeachabull
    Until such time as they instruct Equita it still in the full control of the council in respect of what recovery method they use. It is probably a bad attempt at trying to say they obtained the liability order on 05 April.


    That being said, unless Equita have updated their system, if the officer was also trying to read details of the Equita system it was always a right pain to try and make sense of it when compared to other enforcement agent's systems.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
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