The Recovery Section deals with outstanding balances on Council Tax, Business Rates and Housing Benefit accounts. The process of recovering unpaid money is outlined below;

The Summons

If you have failed to pay money owed on your account after a payment reminder has been sent to you details of your account will be passed to the Recovery Section. At this stage the Recovery Section will issue a summons to appear at North East Derbyshire and Dales Magistrates Court.

As a result, you will lose the right to pay by instalments and the summons will request that you pay the full outstanding balance, including an additional amount for court costs.

If two or more names appear on the Council Tax bill, you will all receive a copy of the summons, but only one amount of costs will be charged.

If you pay the full outstanding amount shown on the summons, including the costs, before the hearing date, no further action will be taken and your name will not appear on the list presented at the Court. The fact that you had been issued with a summons would not be held against you for future years.

You do not have to attend the Magistrate’s court if you agree that you owe the outstanding amount. If you decide to attend court, we will not pay for your expenses.

If you can’t afford to pay the full amount you should contact the Recovery Section to make an arrangement to pay off the debt.

The Court Hearing

The court hearing is held to check that the proper steps have been taken to recover your Council Tax and that the balance is still owing. The Magistrates cannot decide how much you should pay or agree payment arrangements, and cannot consider any Housing Benefit / Council Tax Benefit related matters.

At the hearing, if the Magistrates are satisfied that the correct procedures have been followed, they will grant a Liability Order in respect of your outstanding account. The Liability Order allows us to take further recovery action without prior notice. See our information on Further Action.

If you think you are not liable to pay the charge, please contact the Revenues Section straight away so that we can investigate the matter.

You will be sent a copy of the Liability Order, which also includes a request for details of your income and expenditure. You must complete and return this request to avoid your account being passed to a bailiff company for collection.

Special Arrangements

Once a summons has been issued, the Recovery Section will be happy to discuss making an arrangement for you to pay off your outstanding balance.

There are two ways in which an arrangement can be made:

  • Direct debit – we will consider putting your account onto a monthly direct debit arrangement; the direct debit will continue on your account for future years so you will avoid you falling into arrears again.
  • An arrangement based on income and expenditure – if you are unable to pay by direct debit, we may consider an arrangement based on details of your income and expenditure; this way we can see how much you can reasonably be expected to afford per month to clear your account. We will still apply for a Liability Order with costs at the court hearing, but we will not take any further recovery action, as long as you keep to your arrangement.

Further Action

If you do not make an arrangement to pay, or fail to keep to the arrangement you have made, then the Recovery Section can take the following action:

  • make automatic deductions from your wages or benefits; your employer can charge you up to £1 for each deduction
  • pass your account to an enforcement agency to recover; you may be charged additional costs for this by the company
  • we may start bankruptcy proceedings
  • we can apply for your committal to prison

We would like to avoid all of these options, if at all possible, by making an acceptable arrangement with you.

More Information

For independent advice and information you can contact your local: