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Hi everyone,

 

I just wondered if someone can give me some advice for a friend of my wife's. She's in terrible financial trouble due to an abusive ex-partner who left her in a lot of debt.

 

She's currently being chased by Bristow & Sutor for Council Tax arrears totalling £2,200. So far, the bailiff that has been visiting her has refused to accept any offers of payment whatsoever and has demanded the balance in full. He was always very aggressive and threatened to force entry and remove all of her furniture on multiple occasions, which we all know he can't do.

 

I have written to them on her behalf and they have agreed to put her account on hold for 14 days to give her time to 'put her finances in order' after which they said she must contact them to make payment.

 

My wife's friend is disabled and is in receipt of ESA. She has, however, said that she will pay them £50 per month. This is a huge amount of money for her and I know that she can't afford any more than this.

 

If she offers them this amount and starts paying it to them online, are the bailiffs entitled to refuse the offer as insufficient and press ahead with further action? If so, what action can they take?

 

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

 

Kind regards,

 

Paul

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What council is this, and are they aware of the reliance on sickness benefits. Is there a claim in for Council Tax Relief, and if so what percentage of Council Tax is payable?

 

Is this another case where an attachment to benefit is the correct route? Busted &Stupor's fees only make things worse.

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Hi,

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

The council is Bolsover District Council and they are aware of her reliance on sickness benefits. I wrote to the council at the same I wrote to B&S to explain our friend's disabilities and the very heavy-handedness of the bailiff. They replied saying they had spoken to B&S and they are satisfied that they are handling the case 'sensitively'.

 

I have no idea regarding Council Tax Relief, to be honest, nor what percentage is payable. That's something i hadn't even considered. The problem I am having at present is that B&S are saying any dispute must be taken up with the council and the council are saying it's nothing to do with them any more and we must deal directly with the bailiffs.

 

In the mean time the 14 days are fast ticking down until they remove the hold on the account and start taking 'further action'.

 

In regards to an attachment of benefits, how would that work? Is this something that we can request?

Edited by PSY.1984
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I have written to them on her behalf and they have agreed to put her account on hold for 14 days to give her time to 'put her finances in order' after which they said she must contact them to make payment.

 

My wife's friend is disabled and is in receipt of ESA. She has, however, said that she will pay them £50 per month. This is a huge amount of money for her and I know that she can't afford any more than this.

 

Paul

 

Paul, does the lady have a motor vehicle and if so, is it parked outside of her home?

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Hi,

 

She does but it's a shed and only worth scrap value, being honest. I read that they can't remove a vehicle displaying a blue badge so I've told her to ensure it is on view in the car at all times.

 

I hope that's right.

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1. Is your friends wife on sick pay or in receipt of ESA?

 

2. If disabled is she in receipt of DLA/PiP? If not have they applied?

 

2a. If she gets DLA/PiP is she getting all the benifits they are entitled too? (SMI)

 

2b. If not in receipt of DLA/PiP has she applied yet?

 

3. You need to find out if this is a current debt or for previous years or both.

 

4. If in receipt of ESA alone how long?

 

Run the benefits advisor to see if any other benefits are available to you. The debtor should notify the LA that she is disabled and vulnerable.

 

Finally the blue badge on display is correct. But, if there is an interest in the vehicle sadly it's still at risk. This was recently noted on a case in Birmingham. ...

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Hi,

 

She does but it's a shed and only worth scrap value, being honest. I read that they can't remove a vehicle displaying a blue badge so I've told her to ensure it is on view in the car at all times.

 

I hope that's right.

 

Given her circumstances and the fact that she has no assets it will very likely be the case that B & S will return her case back to the local authority. You need to keep your letter to B & S simple and don't forget to include a Letter of Authority.

 

The following is a very rough draft that can amended as you wish.

 

 

Dear Sirs,

 

Re: Account reference xxx

 

I am writing in connection with the above account relating to council tax arrears owed to xxxx council. The amount currently outstanding is £xxx and this sum includes a compliance fee of £75 and an enforcement fee of £235. I am unable to pay this sum in full for the following reason:

 

Personal circumstances:

 

I am separated from my ex partner following an abusive relationship. I have a 6 year old daughter and a 12 year old son. I am not employed. I am disabled and have been in receipt of ESA since xxxx. The property that I live in is owned by the local housing association. I do not have any savings or means of borrowing money. I have a motor vehicle that is worth no more than £200.

 

Payment proposal:

 

I am attaching with this letter an Income and Expenditure form. As you will see, I have liabilities to many creditors. These have mostly arisen following the breakdown of my relationship with my ex partner. Taking this information into consideration, the maximum payment proposal that I can offer is just £50 per month. If your company are unable to accept this proposal, could you please return the account back to xxxx council so that they can arrange for an attachment against benefits order in place.

 

If there is any further information that you require, please do not hesitate to contact me. Could you also please note that I am sending a copy of this letter to the Head of Revenues at xxxx council.

 

Yours sincerely
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1. Is your friends wife on sick pay or in receipt of ESA?

 

2. If disabled is she in receipt of DLA/PiP? If not have they applied?

 

2a. If she gets DLA/PiP is she getting all the benifits they are entitled too? (SMI)

 

2b. If not in receipt of DLA/PiP has she applied yet?

 

3. You need to find out if this is a current debt or for previous years or both.

 

4. If in receipt of ESA alone how long?

 

Run the benefits advisor to see if any other benefits are available to you. The debtor should notify the LA that she is disabled and vulnerable.

 

Finally the blue badge on display is correct. But, if there is an interest in the vehicle sadly it's still at risk. This was recently noted on a case in Birmingham. ...

 

Hi.

 

1. She's on ESA

2. Yes, she receives PIP

2a. Yes, I have done a benefit check for her online and she is receiving everything she should be.

3. The debt is made up of two previous years. Her ex-partner was in control of all of the money and wasn't paying anything by all accounts.

4. She has been in receipt of ESA for around 2 years now.

 

Thanks for your help :)

 

BA - Thank you very much for that letter, I will adapt it for her and get it sent off recorded first class. If she makes this offer of payment and they refuse are they entitled to then press on with enforcement which will then add further charges? Or do they have to return it to the council for attachment of benefits?

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As far as the 'Payment proposals' go you will need to be very careful with this! Have a read here >> http://www.stepchange.org/Debtinformationandadvice/Budgeting/Whatbillstopayfirst.aspx . Please do so before you send off the letter above as it could cause you issues in the future.

 

 

Since the Council Tax debt goes you will now see this is a priority debt. This MUST be dealt with first and foremost. You will be expected to reduce all other debts to a £1 until they can afford to catch up after this debt is paid...

 

 

For further information you may want to read up on some information here >> http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/help-council-tax this will be time well spent reading IMHO

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BA - Thank you very much for that letter, I will adapt it for her and get it sent off recorded first class. If she makes this offer of payment and they refuse are they entitled to then press on with enforcement which will then add further charges? Or do they have to return it to the council for attachment of benefits?

 

They have already made personal visits to her property. Therefore an enforcement fee of £235 has already been applied. Unless they were able to remove sufficient goods to cover the debt (which will not happen), there can be no further fees added. I would very much doubt that any more visits will be made.

 

The attachment to benefit needs to be set up by the council.

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They replied saying they had spoken to B&S and they are satisfied that they are handling the case 'sensitively'.

 

I'm certain and challenge anyone to show I am wrong but when people apply for a job at the council, especially the CT side, the final question has to be "are you stupid" and if they answer 'yes', then they are offered the job.

What did they expect, B&S to admit 'yes we bullied and threatened them'.

 

You need to keep your letter to B & S simple ....

 

What, like don't use joined up writing.

Edited by Conniff
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Why not use BAs letter for the council asking them to take it back so you don't pay extra fees? Might not be able to, but worth mentioning.

 

That's technically possible, and sometimes recommended. You'd have to ensure they don't gain entry, or take control of the vehicle. If the council take it back, the EA's fees would be removed so you'd be saving £310 straight off. It's an option worth considering.

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I think the bailiff would still want their £75 compliance fee, in this scenario.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

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Its not a failed enforcment, there will be a clause which says the compliance mist be paid, it is usually the case.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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Its not a failed enforcment, there will be a clause which says the compliance mist be paid, it is usually the case.

But any £235would be removed?

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Also worth remembering that councils have the power to write off or reduce any CT debt under s13A of the Local Govt Finance Act 1992. This means anyone in difficulties can apply for a discretionary reduction, and in cases of genuine hardship, people should.

 

Councils have to look at the applications on a case by case basis and aren't allowed to have a blanket policy for refusing the application.

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But any £235would be removed?

 

Yes.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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If the Council recall the debt in full then all fees are removed - Compliance, Enforcement, Sale etc. If for some reason they recall the debt but ask the Enforcement to administer the account then some fees may be payable.

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Depends on the circumstances, and yes i know about section 17, the provision is in the contracting out provisions.

 

In some cases the authority is answerable for the compliance fee if the aborted action is terminated by them on an otherwise successful action, this can be requested from the debtor as i think it will probably be in this.

 

I have seen several case recently where authorities have required debtors to pay the compliance on a returned account.

 

I suggest we wait and see what happens here.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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If the Council recall the debt in full then all fees are removed - Compliance, Enforcement, Sale etc. If for some reason they recall the debt but ask the Enforcement to administer the account then some fees may be payable.

 

Yes, that was my understanding.

 

No doubt the OP will update if they decide to take this route

 

I suggest we wait and see what happens here.

 

You nearly agreed with me then! :wink:

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