How can a wage arrestment affect me?
A wage arrestment is a process sheriff officers use in Scotland to recover unpaid council tax debt. This tactic will mean your current employer will be taking money from your pay. Your employer will take away an amount from your pay each week or month, depending on when your pay date is. The money taken will be sent on to the local authority to pay your council tax arrears. A wage arrestment may be used for different types of debt. Although they are commonly used for recovering non-payment of council tax. Diligence against earnings is used to recover any outstanding debt.
If you’re having trouble with a wage arrestment, it is always a good idea to speak to a wage arrestment expert for advice, they can help you understand what options you have, and what is the best course of action to take.
When will a wage arrestment be used against me?
Let’s explain the process that councils will use when someone has not paid their council tax on time.
First of all, you will receive a reminder letter. This gives you seven days to pay the amount you owe. If you don’t pay this, you will be sent a final notice reminder. This now means that the council have taken away your right to pay by monthly instalments. This now gives you fourteen days to clear the full balance for the rest of the council tax year. After this stage the council may decide to apply for a summary warrant through the sheriff court. This will detail how much is owed and is supplied by the sheriff court.
It is not a requirement to notify you a summary warrant has been authorised. You will no longer be able to negotiate a repayment plan until the summary warrant has been granted. You will be notified about this summary warrant once you have received it in the mail. It will be issued by a sheriff officer. It details how much you owe and who you need to get in touch with to set up a payment plan. You will now be making these payments to the sheriff officers instead of your local authority. There is a 10% penalty fine added to the balance once this summary warrant has been authorised.
You can agree to pay the amount you owe through affordable instalments with the sheriff officer. It is recommended that you agree to a plan that is manageable instead of trying to pay more than you’re able to. This will depend on your finances. If you are not able to reach a reasonable repayment plan, sheriff officers will now ask you to give them details about your current employer, your national insurance number, your bank account details and information on anyone else who is also liable for this council tax bill.
If you do not give the sheriff officers this information within fourteen days, you may receive an added fine on top of your current debt. This allows the council to obtain what is known as a charge for payment. Make sure the information on these documents is correct. If you find out that the details within these documents are incorrect, the documents could be classed as being invalid.
When a charge of payment order has been granted, it must include a debt advice and information pack, this will explain your legal rights, and where to get further advice on what to do next. If you have not received this pack, a wage arrestment may not go ahead. This charge for payment will expire after 14 days, meaning that sheriff officers are now allowed to collect money from you by using various forms of diligence, these can include: wage arrestment, freezing your bank account and taking money from your account, or removing goods from outside your property. If you are able to make a suitable arrangement before the charge for payment expires, you may be able to stop the above forms of diligence from going ahead.
There are various conditions that have to be in place before you can receive a wage arrestment. You must be employed, and not self-employed. You must not be in receipt of any unemployment benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance or income support. Your council tax debt must be more than £50, although it is likely that you will owe more than £1,000 by this stage as the council will bill you for the full year.