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RichardJ1970

Council Tax Summons For Inquiry Into Conduct And Means On 9th April

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Hallo All.

 

I've got myself into a massive state and would be really grateful for any advice to help me to get myself out of this situation.

 

I have been suffering from depression for a few years now and on and off for much of my life. In the last few years i have not really been answering the phone or the door and havent been opening my letters or leaving the house very much. Now my stupidity has caught up with me.

 

A few days ago , my ex phoned me and said she had recieved a letter for me at her place (not sure why they sent it to her or how they got her address- probably because they hadn't had any reply from me). She had opened it ( and has forwarded it to me) and told me it was a Council Tax Summons For Inquiry Into Conduct And Means, which meant that i had been summoned to court and could be imprissoned for non payment of council tax.

 

I owe £4256.64 over three years from financial year 2010-2011 onwards. I have been living off savings and not claiming any JSA or council tax benefit and i own my own flat outright.

 

My savings ran out last year and i have been living off money owed to me by family, friends and my ex. Initially i was in a position to pay some of the Council Tax off but due to my own stupidity i didnt, which i understand will go against me at my impending court case.

 

I have always been aware that i owed this money and fully acknowledge the debt and that i will pay it but I have been a massive f***up in the last few years so so here i am.

 

A couple of weeks before i heard about the commital proceedings from my ex, i registered with my local GP, went to see him and have been prescribed anti-depressants (fluoxitine) which i have been taking (despite reservations) and and am starting to feel some positive effects from.them otherwise i probably wouldnt have been in any state of mind to try and deal with my problems.

 

My plan to deal with this is as follows. I would really appreciate any advice, thoughts, ideas, dos and don'ts and support from members of this forum

 

This Monday morning, i will contact Thanet District Council and ask to see someone to try and arrange payment in installments of the money i owe. I can afford £100 per month. Does this seem like an amount they will accept? I have real difficulty proving any income. I could ask the people who owe me money to write a letter supporting me, but is this proof the Council or Court will accept? What is the best way to proceed with this?

 

As I have no money for a solicitor and am not claiming JSA etc, i will go to my local Citizens Advice Bureau on Monday morning to ask for advice and if they will liase with the Council on my behalf if the Council refuses my offer to pay in installments. Do i have to be in receipt of benefits to qualify for Legal Aid or just be on a low income. I dont have a bank account any more- another debt i need to sort so as i said before, proving my income will be very hard.

 

Would anyone on here think it would help to see my GP about this? Would he write a supporting letter on my behalf that would help with the Council/Court?

 

£100 per month is really the maximum i can afford to pay back as the people who owe me money dont have much themselves. I dont have much of value-apart from my flat - to sell either and cant borrow the money so i am counting on the Council/Court to accept my offer. I am feeling a bit better on the fluoxitine and plan to start looking for work on monday too.

 

Honestly, what are my chances? Am I looking at going to prison?

 

Richard

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Hi Richard and welcome to CAG.

 

First of all I think it's unlikely in the extreme that you'll be sent to prison.

 

I'm not really clear why you aren't claiming any benefits but just be honest about everything, You may well find that the inquiry will already be aware if your finances.

 

A letter from your GP confirming your illness would certainly not go amiss or the offer of £100 a month as long as you can definitely afford it.

 

If you have lived alone for any of the time in question, have you been getting the 25% allowance for single occupation?

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What's Best for You?

 

 

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

 

Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

Yorkshire Bank Moneyclaim issued 21/6/06 £4,489.39 full settlement received 26 January 2007

:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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Hi Caro and thanks so much for your quick reply, dont think im going to be getting much sleep tonight! Been looking for info all over and CAG has provided much of the useful stuff ive found so far.

 

I have claimed benefits for long periods in the past, but i am owed over 10k by friends and family and dont want to lie on the forms and get into more trouble.

 

I have lived alone over the period i am liable for so would qualify for the 25% discount but being an idiot, i didnt apply for it. Would they back date it? Would i be better off accepting the full debt , ie not getting into a dispute with the Council, so they would look on my offer to repay at £100 per month more favourably?

 

Also, have i put this in the right forum?

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I don't know if they would backdate it or not, but what I can say is that when I helped a friend who got in a mess over CT and her income, the council reassessed her bills based on the information provided.

 

I don't know much about benefits but will see if someone better informed to advise. If you're unwell you might be entitled to something.

 

I'm really glad you're getting the medical help you need and taking back control of your life. Well done on a great start. :-)


 

What's Best for You?

 

 

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

 

Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

Yorkshire Bank Moneyclaim issued 21/6/06 £4,489.39 full settlement received 26 January 2007

:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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By the way - I don't think the offer of £100 a month will stop the interview on 9th. I think I'd save the offer for that.


 

What's Best for You?

 

 

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

 

Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

Yorkshire Bank Moneyclaim issued 21/6/06 £4,489.39 full settlement received 26 January 2007

:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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I am feeling better- its lucky i went to the doctor when i did otherwise the police would probably be kicking my door in in a few weeks time and hauling me off to prison!

 

Is it worth me going to the Council offices in person or phone them on Monday to ask them to re-assess my bill (in writing? also giving my reasons why i 've left it so late?). Should I wait until i've got a letter from my GP confirming my illness, and take that along too? Would it make any difference if i printed out a edited copy of my first post to explain myself? Or am i better off leaving all of this for the commital hearing?

 

What can I expect at the Inquiry Into Conduct And Means? Would i be at a big disadvantage without legal representation?

 

Thanks again for your help and kind words, it's much appreciated.

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There is no prison only if you refuse to pay I would get down to the council and ask for a breakdown of what you owe.what does the letter say are bailiffs involved

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Hi Matt, thanks very much for your reply. The summons says that the" bailiffs have returned their files as there are insufficient goods to collect the sums outstanding". There have been many knocks on the door and many unopened letters but i havent answered any of them and i havent let any bailiffs in. The amount the summons says i owe does seem pretty high to me. I'm sure court costs are included in the amount, not sure about baliff fees.

 

I'm not sure how much i need to rely on the goodwill of the council in order for them to accept my offer to pay in istallments of £100 p/m. Will asking for a breakdown of what i owe make them more difficult to deal with?

 

If I accept the debt at the amount they claim now, is it fixed or can i question the amount after they've accepted my offer to pay?

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Sorry dont think councel do goodwill. look have a read round the forum. as you said sounds like a lot of it are fees and court cost ect you wont know till you have the breakdown then you can take it from there.I think you need to slow down a bit. see what's on the table first.

there is all ways someone here who will advise you step by step the council is your first port of call then we can take it from there.

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It may help if you start making payments direct to council Monday if you can what you can.

You say its been handed back to CT this may be a good thing sure someone who knows about this will tell you as I'm not to up on CT matters hope this helps.

Edited by matt v atos

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Cheers Matt, i have been babbling on with 20,000 questions- my brain is spinning round a bit to be honest.

 

I'll go to the council on monday morning and politely ask for a breakdown of what i owe. Will ask if they back date single person discount as well and try to make a payment. I've read here that they have to accept a payment online. i need to open up a new bank account anyway.

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That sounds like a good plan, just be careful what you say regarding what you have been doing for the last 3 years.save that for later.

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I'm off to bed before i go try and find out what happens when you open a new bank account as you owe money you don't want it raided pay cash to CT if poss good luck mate !

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Hi, given your circumstances your unlikely to go to prison, in this instance the threat of prison is a coercive tool to get you to pay. The two reasons the magistrates could goal you is if the council demonstrates (1) will full refusal or (2) culpable neglect in not paying. Both of which from what you've said you can adequately prove. The court has the power to set repayment amounts or even write-off the arrears. You may want to provide the court with a financial statement something Citizens Advice (CAB) should be able to help you with or there's diy ones on line.

 

At this stage the council may not be interested in negotiation, but it depends on each officer to some extent. The unfortunate truth is as its got this far may mean, that they want to leave the process take its course, but theres no harm in speaking to them or to start making payments to reduce the arrears.

 

People don't generally have a lawyer in these type of hearings however if you are entitled to legal aid can apply for a lawyer I don't know that there are many specialising in Council Tax matters though. You are also allowed "the assistance of a friend" in presenting your case or for support, CAB may offer to help you on the day.

 

I think for the future its important that you apply for Council Tax Benefit asap, you can apply for backdating for up to 6 months but you will need to demonstrate a good reason as to why you didn't apply at the time.

 

Good luck with every thing, make sure you've got support and don't leave all this overwhelm you!

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Hi Revshelp, with culpable neglect and willfull refusal as i understand it, if i had the means to pay at the time but didnt, this counts as culbable neglect. i did have the means to pay at the start of the period im liable for so am a bit worried about this. As for willful refusal, i guess this means i deliberately did not pay because i didnt want to or disagree with the principle of Council tax?

 

In the end, i didnt pay because i am/was depressed (although feeling much better after doing something about it) and was acting in a very self destructive manner. Is this something the court will take into account do you think?

 

I dont know anyone down here who will accompany me to the hearing so will ask at the CAB if they can help with this and the financial statement as well.

 

Thanks very much for your advice. I will appy for single persons discount for the upcoming years CT when i go to the Council offices on monday morning.

 

I will be on CAG at least twice a day from now on - probably late evening and morning. I am fully commited to sorting this out.

Edited by RichardJ1970

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you say I did have the means to pay at the start of the period im liable for, what income did you have and could they prove it.

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hi Matt, sorry, not income, savings. I dont know if they would have done a check on my bank account so dont know if they can prove it or not. I guess they will ask for bank details at the hearing although the account has been closed by the bank due to direct debit charges.

 

Will be back online fo midnight tonight.

 

Thanks all

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One thing to be wary of - you say you own your property outright. They could go for a charging order or they can make you bankrupt - in either case you will be held liable for the extra costs.

 

As regards Benefits, you could try and see if the Council or CAB have a Welfare Rights Adviser who can help with this, they may even help fight your corner for any backdated Benefits you may be entitled to. I would also suggest you try and enlist the help of your local Councillor(s) to see if they will intervene. If they refuse or are reluctant go straight to the Leader of the Council and his opposite number. At the time this all happened you appear to have been vulnerable and this should be taken into account - to help with this you may have to ask your GP for a letter about your health status at the time.

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Richard - being OWED £10,000 does not affect your entitlement to benefits. All it is, is that if you put in a claim, as you should and you are in a lump sum paid more than the threshold (£6000 I think) then you would have to report that to the DWP.

 

It is what's in your bank accounts/savings right now, not what you might have one day.

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Hi Ploddertom, thanks for your advice. Would the court be inclined to go for a charging order -make me sell my flat if I understand it right? - or make me bankrupt (not sure of the consequences of this- will look it up) if i offer to pay by installments? Bit of a how long is a piece of string question i know but does anyone know how often this happens?

 

I'll ask at the Council offices tomorrow if they have a Welfare Rights Advisor and if so, speak to them about if i can backdate my single person benefit and if they can provide any other assistance to me.

 

I will contact my local councillors after i have been to see the Council tomorrow morning and have more of an idea of where i stand with them. I will make an appointment with my GP tomorrow as well to get him to write a letter on my behalf.

 

Thanks for the link Matt, have had a read of it and it seems to say that before the Council apply for a Commitasl hearing, they can apply for a charging order or make me bankrupt. Once it goes to the Commital hearing stage, according to the CAB leaflet, the options are jail or a postponement of the warrant as long as i pay by installments. Does this mean they won't apply for a charging order or bankrupcy at this late stage? I will ask what sanctions are available at the Commital Hearing to the Court/Council when i go to the CAB tomorrow morning or if anyone on here knows this i would be really grateful if they could inform me of this.

 

Also mentioned in the leaflet is the presence of a duty solicitor. Will there always be one present at the court and how likely am i to get him/her to speak on my behalf at the hearing?

 

Thanks for your advice on benefitsCaledwlch, I'll go down to the jobcenter tomorrow and make a claim.

 

Would I be better off waiting unitil I have the letter from my GP confirming i am/was unwell before i go and see anyone else?

 

Thanks all. Richard.

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I don't think a doctors letter will help in this matter. I think your visit to CT will be the best bet at this time. to arrange some sort of offer to pay as the court will look at it this way.

 

If the council can show you have refused or not made an effort to pay, the magistrates could send you to prison. Usually though, they will make an order postponing the warrant to send you to prison, as long as you pay off the debt by regular instalments.

You can ask someone to go with you to the court hearing if you need help to explain your situation. The court doesn’t have to let the other person speak on your behalf, unless they are a solicitor. You may qualify for help to pay for a solicitor under Legal Aid, or the court may have a duty solicitor you can speak to when you get there.

 

charging order (if you owe £1000 or more). A charging order gives the council powers to force you to sell your property and pay off the council tax debt out of any money left after the mortgage has been repaid. This doesn’t happen very often. Get advice if it happens to you.

The CAB may not see you Monday but will give you a appointment far as I know.

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Hi Ploddertom, thanks for your advice. Would the court be inclined to go for a charging order -make me sell my flat if I understand it right? - or make me bankrupt (not sure of the consequences of this- will look it up) if i offer to pay by installments? Bit of a how long is a piece of string question i know but does anyone know how often this happens?

 

 

I thought it best to point it out as it is something that can be considered. However I imagine at present they do not know you own it outright. Just be aware if it is something they ask about.


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