Council Tax and Business Rates Arrears Issues in Birmingham

Thousands of people fall into debt every year and it’s reported that 1 in 4 people in Birmingham use loans or credit cards in order to make ends meet. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that thousands of people are struggling with council tax arrears after failing to pay their council tax. You may struggle with council tax arrears if you have failed to pay your council tax, and you can fall into business rate arrears if you have failed to pay your business rates.

In fact, it was reported by the BBC in August 2013 that bailiffs were called in by local councils for £1.8 million worth of debts in the UK. In Birmingham, the local authority referred debts on 82,329 occasions over the last year which is the highest number of debt referrals for any council, according to the BBC.

It isn’t simply the number of bailiff referrals which have led Birmingham to be first in the top 20 – for business referrals it also came top with a total of 4446 referrals in the city.

Of course, it isn’t simply Birmingham with a high number of people struggling with council tax or business rates arrears: the City of Westminster council, for example, made 53,635 bailiff referrals for residential properties and 3775 for business referrals. Liverpool City made a total of 47,054 referrals with 43,834 of these for residential bailiff referrals and 3220 for business referrals.

If you are one of the many struggling to pay your council tax or business rates, it’s important to talk to professionals, such as those here at Council Tax Advisors. We can offer advice and support, and can mediate between you and your council to organise an affordable repayment plan.

While the number of bailiff referrals is high for council tax and business rates in Birmingham, it can affect people throughout the country which is why we are on hand to offer advice, support, and guidance. To avoid bailiff action, talking to an experienced advisor from Council Tax Advisors can offer you peace of mind if you are struggling with council tax or business rates arrears.

Hard Times in the UK See Rise in Bad Bailiffs

If anyone has had direct experience with bailiffs, then they know that hard times have fallen on far too many UK households over the past few years. From cuts, unemployment or other issues such as long-term illness, families can quickly fall into debt and, with no way out, it’s not long before they are being threatened with bailiff action. This can be an incredibly daunting and often frightening experience, and is only made ten times worse by the tendency for bailiffs to act unlawfully when interacting with those who are most vulnerable.

Since the economic downturn and subsequent government cuts, a rise in bailiff visits has also seen a rise in reports of bad bailiff behaviour. For those who have fallen into enough debt to warrant a visit from bailiffs, the last thing they need is for professional debt collectors to start acting unreasonably and aggressively as soon as they arrive on the doorstep. There have shocking reports of everything from bailiffs trying to force entry into homes to threats of eviction and physical violence.

This is why it’s so important for anyone worried about something like this happening to them to seek advice on how best to deal with bailiffs once they do come knocking. Looking over your shoulder and being afraid to leave your home is no way to live, and this is why swotting up on the facts is such a useful endeavour for anyone struggling with debt. It can happen to anyone, with circumstances often spiralling out of control, but it shouldn’t mean that you have to be fearful of unprofessional bailiffs who regularly step far beyond their level of power in order to collect.

Bailiffs have to seek peaceful entry, and obviously can’t threaten residents with physical harm or changing the locks – this is completely immoral and often illegal. Anyone confronted with a bailiff using aggressive tactics in order to gain entry should not even open the door. If you do let them in, then they shouldn’t be allowed to take belongings that are essential, such as clothes or cookers, and can’t take items belonging to someone else. With so many experiencing hard times right now, it has become even more important to get up to speed, so contact CTA today to receive free, independent advice on dealing with council tax and bailiffs.

How to Arrange a Debt Management Scheme That Works

Why do people get into debt and why can’t people get out of it? A lot of the time the answer to these questions is that people overestimate how far they can make their money stretch. Money borrowed and payable tax need to be accounted for, and frequently they are not. Of course there are situations where things occur out of your control, but it is always best to be prepared for such occurrences with a back up of capital. A savings account of money in case of emergency never hurt anyone.

So when it comes to getting out of debt, we must make sure that we don’t go on to repeat the same mistakes; we must be honest with ourselves, and our creditors about what we can realistically afford to pay back and over a time period that is realistic.

Council Tax Advisors are able to negotiate your terms of repayment with bailiffs and the courts, but it is imperative that you approach the repayment with sincerity; deception can hurt your cause and ultimately cost you more in the long run. There are plenty of people out there who are able to offer you life changing help, but it is important that you are keen to help yourself first.

Gosport Borough Football are just one recent example of a situation that isn’t improved through poor debt management; after 18 months of promised repayments, the creditors, DLP Festival management, have had to employ bailiffs to recoup the debt owed by the club.

The leader of the club has reportedly made several claims as to why payments have been missing and cheques have bounced. ‘The start of the season’ is just one reason among many allegedly cited. We have to assume that the club were aware that the start of the season would happen, and can only conclude that they have managed their debts poorly.

Council Tax Advisors are in place to assist debtors in making the right judgements and decisions; if you require help in making careful, well informed debt management plans, there are people there to ensure that your goals aren’t unrealistic. They are there to make sure you can get back on your feet.

How to Deal with Mistakes in Council Tax

Mistakes happen. An accidental driving offence, a forgotten bill, a mislaid letter; on both sides, things can go wrong and whilst these situations can also escalate and get out of control, there are examples where such situations may be contained.

In a recent article published by the Islington gazette, a couple were shocked to find bailiffs at their door that had come to take away their car. Not because they hadn’t paid a debt or a bill, not because they’d forgotten their tax but because of a £60 driving fine for driving the wrong way through a width restriction back in March. Michelle Holton, the apparent offender, explains that she never received a ticket, and quite rightly points out that if she had known about it, she wouldn’t have let the £60 fine turn into a £500 one. The council claims that whilst letters were sent, there is a chance that they may have been lost. These things happen, hey?

These sorts of situations are a headache. Nobody wants to have beefy bailiffs turning up at their door a week or two before Christmas demanding £500 but the upside of the scenario is, that conditions like this can be resolved simply. Council Tax Advisors are able to negotiate with councils and bailiffs over these sorts of situations where a simple misunderstanding or mishap has been the cause of increased financial issues.

Immediate action is the best approach for these situations too; delaying the process can only do two things – primarily, and most importantly, it will show that you’re not the type of person that likes to see debts resolved, secondly it increases the chance of negotiations failing. A quick call to Council Tax Advisors can get the ball rolling.

So, mistakes do happen, but it isn’t the end of the world if you act swiftly; if you’ve accrued a penalty of some variety, try to get it paid off quickly before the situation gets out of hand; if it is a misunderstanding, attempt contacting the relevant creditors in order to resolve the situation, alternatively you can call Council Tax Advisors who are specialists and negotiating debt management schemes and debt misunderstandings.

Ultimately, remember that whilst it might be an inconvenience, these things do happen. And it is the way that we deal with these situations, not the situations themselves that pave our future.

Council Tax Arrears On the Rise After Support is Withdrawn

Falling into council tax debt can ruin lives and leave families distraught, and recent times have unfortunately seen a distinct rise in such troubles since the economic downturn. Since government cuts to council tax benefits were passed, many people have struggled to pay and have subsequently been faced with out of control debt issues and the frightening prospect of a visit from bailiffs. Because of their terrible reputation, the threat of bailiffs can cause unprecedented stress that leads to even larger problems in the long run.

Figures have revealed that there has been a 15% increase in the number of liability orders issued by magistrates courts for council tax arrears since last year, but this jumps further to 30% in areas that have had their public assistance withdrawn. An uncomfortable trend seems to be emerging since recent times have left so many people worse off, and it is commonly thought that issues with bailiffs have also risen. These kinds of problems leave vulnerable people open to unfair treatment, and it’s incredibly important that everyone knows their rights when it comes to dealing with bailiffs.

It’s become a worrying trend for the poorest people in Britain to be the ones called to court over council tax arrears, with no way to pay what they cannot afford. It is thought that cases of this happening have jumped up by two thirds over the last year, largely assumed to be a symptom of council tax benefit cuts that come as part of the government’s Welfare Reform Act 2012. The act puts the responsibility on to local councils, with traditional benefits replaced by a social welfare grant that only covers a percentage of the monthly council tax bills of those in need.

This inevitably results in action for too many households, with a visit from bailiffs an increasingly common end point for those who have become unable to pay what is due. With so few of these individuals and families aware of how to properly deal with unprofessional or aggressive bailiffs, this eventuality can be very damaging, and it’s important that anyone facing bailiff action seek help from experienced advisors such as those at Council Tax Advisors. Contact us today to find out what your rights really are and what you can do to eliminate council tax worries for good.

Big Changes Coming to Bailiff Charges in 2014

Bailiffs have such a bad reputation that it’s often hard to discern the truth from all of the gossip, rumour and negative stories. One thing’s for sure, though – some bailiffs have a tendency to overstep their jurisdiction and, because the vast majority of homes they visit have no idea what their rights are in the moment, they are often able to get away with doing whatever they want in order to collect what they came for. But that could be about to change, with new rules for bailiffs coming into effect in April 2014.

Following a consultation on aggressive bailiffs taking place last year, new rules have been brought in to help keep a small section of bailiffs from abusing their perceived powers. New measures are set to stop bailiffs from entering homes where there are only children present and from visiting debtors’ homes late at night – they will only be permitted to visit between the hours of 6am and 9pm.

Other rules prevent landlords from using bailiffs to collect property for rent arrears without first going to court, stop bailiffs from taking essential domestic items such as fridges, cookers and washing machines, prevent bailiffs from selling collected goods until seven days has passed and stop them from forcing entry to a property without first proving that such reasonable force is necessary.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said on the matter: “There are some very good, reputable bailiffs around, but we know there is bad practice out there that needs to be dealt with. For too long bailiffs have gone unregulated, allowing a small minority to give the industry a bad name. These laws will help to clean up the industry and ensure bailiffs play by the rules. They will also make sure businesses and public bodies can collect their debts fairly.”

These new measures could change a lot about the way bailiffs operate, but it is still imperative that those struggling with council tax arrears or anticipating an unwelcome visit seek professional, independent advice about repayment options, their rights when bailiffs come knocking and how they can avoid unpleasant confrontations. Council Tax Advisors are here to offer trustworthy help and guidance, so contact us today to find out more about how you can rid yourself of bailiff issues for good.

Why Pretending the Problem Will Go Away Won’t Work

Sometimes when we don’t understand something it is easier just to forget it’s even there. Sometimes when we think a decision is unfair, we also decide that it’s best off not thinking about it. Sometimes when we haven’t got the money to deal with a sticky situation, we put it out of our minds.

This doesn’t work. Trust us, we know. Thousands of people have done it before you, and thousands of people will do it after you. So you’ve got yourself into a bit of a sticky situation, it’s no big deal, but pretending the problem does not exist is not the answer. If you’re in a situation where you’ve not got much money or you think that you’ve been wrongly fined, it’s best to source advice or help rather than ignore it.

Why, when life is already stressful enough, should you have to deal with it? We know life is sometimes unfair, and this is often reflected in the systems that are facilitated by the governing bodies around the world; no, it’s not fair, but without trying to sound too callous, that’s life.

Whether it is your fault or not, or whether you have the money or not, action must sometimes be taken in order to avoid further complications. If you can’t pay up immediately or you think you shouldn’t have to, you need to do something, so get advice from someone that knows how to deal with the situation – Council Tax Advisors.

Ultimately, if you simply choose to ignore the situation you will only aggravate the problem and the bailiffs companies will likely become more urgent in their mission to collect money; this sometimes presents itself as a threatening demeanour. To avoid a visit from the bailiffs, a quick chat with a well informed advisor should be able to get the problem heading in the right direction for a peaceful resolve.

If you have a dispute with any sort of fine or outstanding debt, you should also check in with a council tax advisor, because they have the information that can help you defer payments and arrange evidence in a way that could excuse you from a fine.

If you simply ignore a fine, the fine will grow and grow, and by the time you are forced to notice it, it’ll be too late to do anything about – the quicker you respond to calls for debt and fines, the better off you will be. So don’t wait. Don’t pretend it isn’t there, because, quite simply, it won’t work. Give someone a call who does know how to handle the situation, if you do, you might not have to meet a bailiff at all.

Struggling with the new ‘Bedroom Tax’ and Fallen into Arrears?

You may have heard recent reports about the government’s new bedroom tax policy which was introduced in April 2013 – an initiative which sees welfare reforms reducing the amount of benefit you can receive if you have a spare bedroom in your council home. It was announced that the government will cut a fixed percentage of the housing benefit at 14% for one extra bedroom, and 25% for two extra bedrooms or over.

But how has this new policy affected residents? It’s recently been reported that 65% of Salford’s social housing tenants have been hit by the Government’s bedroom tax and have subsequently fallen into arrears. According to a recent report, Salford City Council has seen the number of residents in arrears double since the implementation of the bedroom-tax policy. A report by the council, titled ‘Feeling the Pain’ has identified the fact that thousands of individuals and families in the city are struggling to pay their bills following government cuts and welfare changes.

It isn’t just Salford which is affected. With the bedroom tax, also known as Spare Room Subsidy, affecting properties up and down the country, many people are unfortunately struggling to make ends meet when it comes to paying their council tax. If your housing benefit has been cut following the bedroom tax policy, it’s important to identify any means of earning extra money. From reducing your expenditure to moving to a smaller home, there are many steps that you can take. Most importantly, it’s vital that you pay your full rent on time to prevent getting into council tax arrears. If you fear that you will struggle to pay your full rent, it’s important to discuss the matter with your council.

If you are one of the thousands of people who have fallen into arrears, it’s important to discuss this with your council. At Council Tax Advisors we can discuss this with your council on your behalf in order to organise a manageable repayment plan and help you avoid getting into further debt.  We understand that falling into arrears and struggling after the introduction of the bedroom tax can be difficult, which is why our expert advisors are on hand to help.

What Happens if I Don’t Pay my Council Tax Arrears?

If you are struggling to pay your council tax arrears, it can be a daunting and confusing prospect, particularly if you’re not aware of the process going forward. Sometimes, simply knowing what could happen in a situation can help put your mind at ease which is why we’ve put together a post with information on what can happen if you don’t pay your council tax arrears.

If you have failed to pay your council tax arrears and haven’t reached an agreement with your council, your council may apply for a liability order from the local magistrates’ court. A liability order is a court order which states that you must pay back the entire amount of council tax owed for that year and not just the arrears. This liability order gives the council the right to take action against you in order to receive their payment.

You will then be sent a summons which is a court document telling you how much you owe the council and the details of the hearing. Before the hearing, we advise that you contact your local council and try to arrange a repayment plan as you won’t be able to do this at the hearing. If the prospect of trying to reach an agreement with your council is daunting, we can mediate between you and your council to negotiate a repayment plan on your behalf.

If you choose not to discuss the matter with your council, you will have to attend a liability order hearing where, if it is decided that you are responsible for paying the council tax, a number of actions may take place. If a liability order is made the council can send bailiffs to your home, instruct your employer to decrease your earnings, or apply for a charging order which gives them the power to sell your property, among other actions.

With this in mind, discussing your payments with your council is the simplest way to avoid further action being taken against you. There can be various outcomes from negotiating a repayment plan with your council – your council may agree to allow you to pay off your debts in manageable instalments, for example. If an agreement is reached, the council could cancel your court hearing.

How to Avoid Confrontation When Bailiffs Come Knocking

Sometimes, no matter who you are or how you deal with your money, hard times can befall you and your family. When this happens, it’s incredibly common for people to fall behind on paying their council tax along with other debts they may have, and it’s possible that this will get to the point where bailiffs become a part of your world. Looking over for shoulder for that eventuality can be one of the worse experiences of one’s life, but there are ways in which you can avoid direct conflict with aggressive bailiffs often acting unlawfully.

The power of bailiffs when they come to collect is vastly overestimated by the majority of people they come into contact with but, by educating yourself about what they genuinely can and cannot do, you are arming yourself against increased distress and inconvenience. The first thing you need to do is prepare for the upcoming visit, which you should have been notified about at least 14 days previously, and this will help you avoid the surprise of having a determinedly aggressive bailiff arrive outside.

Once you have mentally prepared for the visit, you will be much more able to negotiate with the bailiffs calmly and with your facts up to scratch. When they arrive, for example, you don’t have to allow them access to your home at all as, in the majority of cases, they are not allowed to enter unless you allowed them to peacefully on a previous occasion. It’s a good idea to avoid allowing them through the front door (or any other door, for that matter) at all costs, and you can communicate with them through an upstairs window or your letter box.

This might sound a little extreme, but it ensures that they can’t enter your home unless they physically break down the door. Opening up to them will only serve as an invitation to those bailiffs who already don’t need much encouragement, and can be construed as allowing them to come in even if it’s the last thing you actually want. Once inside, you must make sure that the bailiffs do not take either essential items or items belonging to someone else (for which you will have to provide evidence) and, if they automatically start to take things from your home without first attempting to collect the actual debt, this is also against protocol.

Even if you are expecting a visit from bailiffs, there’s no need for things to get out of hand so long as you educate yourself on what your rights actually are. For advice and help dealing with council tax debt and bailiffs, contact our team today.

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