Our committal action process and what you can do to avoid going to prison
Committal action process
After we've followed our recovery action process, if you're still unable to pay your Council Tax, you may go to prison. We'll only take this step when other efforts have failed. The committal action process is outlined below.
We'll issue you a formal summons to attend court. The application on the day of court will be for a custodial sentence to reflect the sums outstanding. Please complete our income and expenditure form when you receive this notice. We'll see if an arrangement can be agreed to present to the magistrates. Failure to do so will result in an application for custody.
To complete our income and expenditure form you'll need:
- your employer's details including payroll number (if applicable)
- details of your income
- details of all outgoings (including household bills, travel costs, and debts)
Failure to attend court will result in the application for an arrest warrant. This could result in your arrest at any time, and you being held in custody pending a court hearing.
If the magistrates find culpable neglect or wilful refusal during the court hearing, then a prison sentence of up to three months may be imposed immediately. Your debt will still be payable on your release.
We'll also consider options such as:
- forcing bankruptcy
- placing a charging order against your property which would then move to an order for sale (forcing the sale of the property to recover monies owed)
The costs involved in the committal action will be added to your debt. The costs are:
- formal court summons - £310.00 per individual summonsed
- warrant cost - £145.00 per individual (the process may involve more than one warrant)
- application for charging order - £263.00
- application for an order for sale - £2,000.00 to £5,000.00 (recoverable from the proceeds of the sale)
- request for further information and subsequent prosecution - £1,000.00 to £4,000.00
- application for bankruptcy - £2,000.00 to £3,000.00 (recoverable as a debt in bankruptcy)
Consequences of bankruptcy
- you could lose your home
- your credit rating will be affected for many years
- your bank may freeze or close your bank accounts
- your gas or electricity suppliers may change the way they provide the service to you (for example, payment in advance)
- your bankruptcy would be recorded on a public register and anyone can search this for free
- your employment could be affected
- the Accountant in Bankruptcy could impose restrictions on you if they considered you were incurring debts that you knew you had no chance of repaying. These restrictions could last up to 15 years
Please note; this is not an exhaustive list.