What happens if I do not pay?
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What happens if I do not pay?

If you get into payment difficulties and you cannot afford your payments you should contact the business rates team straight away to see if we can help you by making a different payment arrangement.

Remember that paying by direct debit ensures that your payments are made on time every month. You also have the option of paying on either the first or the fifteenth of the month.

If you make an arrangement with us it will be subject to recovery action continuing to Liability Order stage. This secures the debt for the Council and enables us to take further action, should you default on your arrangement.

If you are awaiting the outcome of an appeal against your rateable value, you must continue to pay as billed (Rating Legislation specifies that you have no right to withhold payment pending an appeal. However, it does specify that you may be entitled to interest on any overpayment which arises as a result of your appeal).

If you pay late we will send you a reminder or final notice. We normally send only one reminder before taking further action. If you do not pay, you lose your right to pay by instalments. You must then pay the full amount that is due for the year. If you do not pay, we will send you a summons to appear in the Magistrates Court, which will incur further costs.

If the court decides you are responsible for paying and you have not paid in full, they can issue a liability order. This means that we can collect the money by:

  • asking our enforcement agents to collect the debt by removing and selling some of your possessions which will result in you having to pay their fees
  • commencing insolvency proceedings through the County Court
  • applying to the County Court for a charging order on your property that enables us to force its sale or repay your business rates out of the proceeds of any future sale. This will also result in you paying additional fees.

In some cases, if you continue not to pay we can return to court. The court may decide to send you to prison, order you to pay, or tell us to write off part or all of the debt.

Changes to Enforcement 2014

From 6 April 2014, bailiffs will be known as Enforcement Agents. 

The Government has passed new legislation that will change the way enforcement agents operate and collect debts. This is intended to create a new open, transparent and sustainable process which protects the vulnerable against what is often perceived as aggressive bailiff practices. The principles behind the new rules are aimed at reducing physical door step activity with the enforcement agent, and having a set and clear fee regime. The enforcement process will have three clear stages:

Stage One - Compliance Stage

Once the Council passes a case to the enforcement agent, a £75 charge is payable by the ratepayer. At this point the enforcement agent will attempt to make contact by text, e-mail or phone (but will not call at the property at this stage) – If the ratepayer pays or makes an arrangement to pay and maintains payment, they will not hear from the enforcement agent again, as long as they keep to the arrangement. The £75 costs incurred will be collected and cleared first.

Stage Two - Enforcement Stage

If stage one is not successful the account is moved on to the Enforcement Stage. This stage involves a visit to the premises. The cost to the ratepayer is an additional £235 plus 7.5% of proportion of debt above £1,500 if debt is above £1,500. There is only one enforcement charge, regardless of how many visits are made for the same debt. At this stage, the enforcement agent can still make an arrangement with the ratepayer without taking control of goods, although the costs will be included. At this stage the enforcement agent must issue an Enforcement Notice, this is a statutory document and information enclosed will be in accordance with legislation.

Stage Three - Sale or Disposal of Goods

This is the final stage of recovery as far as the enforcement agents are involved and a charge of £110 will be applied.

Summary of Fees for Enforcement

Fee StageFixed FeePercentage Fee
£0.00 to £1500£1500+
Compliance Stage£75.000%0%
Enforcement Stage£235.000%7.5%
Sale or Disposal Stage£110.000%7.5%