The Enforcement Process
If you have not paid a debt, it is tempting to ignore letters and calls, but this might add more costs. Always reply to attempts to contact you. You may be able to make an arrangement to pay.
1. Liability Order is issued
If you have a debt that has not been paid, Cheshire East will obtain a court order. These orders are known as liability orders. This starts the process to recover the money.
2. Liability Order given to Enforcement Company
The liability order may then be given to an enforcement agent or enforcement company to recover the debt. If so, a fee of £75 is added to the amount owed.
3. Compliance stage
The first step in the three-stage enforcement process is the compliance stage where you are sent a ‘Notice of Enforcement’. This gives details of:
- The outstanding debt
- How and when to pay by
- What happens if you don’t pay
- The extra fees you could then also expect to pay
- Contact details for the enforcement agent or company
- Contact details for free debt advice
You will have at least seven days (not including Sundays or Bank Holidays) before any further action is taken by the enforcement agent or company, unless a court has decided otherwise.
At this point you should contact the enforcement agent or company immediately to arrange for payment to be made to them. Once a debt is with an enforcement agent, you are required to pay them, rather than Cheshire East.
If you are unable to pay you should still call the enforcement agent or company and explain why.
4. Enforcement stage
If the enforcement agent or company doesn’t hear from you by the date stated, they will move the matter to the enforcement stage. This means you’ll have at least one visit from an enforcement agent to arrange payment, and an additional £235 (plus 7.5% of the original debt over £1500) will be added to the amount owed.
They are not obliged to inform you of the precise date and time of a visit. It could be anytime from 6am – 9pm on any day including Sundays, and religious or public holidays.
Sometimes the enforcement agent will enter into a controlled goods agreement with you. This means a list is drawn up of what could be removed at a later date if you do not come to an alternative arrangement.
Making a controlled goods agreement gives you a final chance to pay your debt rather than having your goods removed.
5. Sale stage
If full payment is not made you risk having your possessions removed for sale by the enforcement agent. This is the sale stage. A fee of £110 (plus 7.5% of the original debt over £1500) is added to the amount owed to cover costs for moving the possessions so they can be sold.
Additional (actual) costs for other expenses, such as hiring a locksmith, storing goods or auction costs, may be applied. Further expenses are limited and must be approved by the court.
Cheshire East Council currently employs the service of two Enforcement Agents for the collection of Council Tax:
• If you have received correspondence or a visit from Bristow & Sutor
• If you have received correspondence or a visit from Jacobs.