If you live in Northern Ireland and you’re struggling with council tax debts, first of all; you’re not alone. According to a StepChange report in late 2014, Scots consistently have the highest level of council tax arrears in the UK.
On average, Scots struggling with their council tax payments tend to owe £1,534 – which is almost twice the average figure of £798 for the rest of the UK.
For over 25 years, we’ve helped thousands of people across Northern Ireland with their council tax arrears; not only enabling them to lead a debt-free future but also maintain a roof over their heads. Here, we discuss council tax debts and what your next steps should be.
Council Tax is not an optional payment; it is mandatory and due monthly. If you fall behind with payments, you can quickly find yourself under pressure from your local council and, as time goes by, your debt will be passed onto sheriff officers who can make life feel increasingly uncomfortable.
If you are struggling with mounting council debt in Scotland, you’re likely to receive a ‘reminder’ letter which is effectively your ‘first strike’. It is a warning from the council that you’ve missed a payment and at this stage, your credit rating could already be affected. If you are unable to pay your council tax at this stage, you will lose your right to pay in monthly instalments and that’s when things can become even more problematic.
What follows the reminder letter is known as a ‘final notice’ which is a serious action taken by the council. At this stage, you will no longer be entitled to pay in instalments and payment in full, plus outstanding debts, will be demanded up front. You may be able to come to an agreement with the council but it’s important to call them and explain the situation you’re in. It can be possible to reach an arrangement with the council’s finance department to spread the payments of money you owe over an extended period of time but this is at their discretion.
If you continually fall behind with your council tax, the council will ultimately pass your case onto local sheriff officers (also known as bailiffs in other parts of the UK). Sheriff Officers have the right to repossess items from your property to and enforce court orders against you.
At this stage, things can get very complex and very damaging for you personally. It goes without question that you should aim to contact us before this stage but even if you are facing sheriff officer action at present, there are still ways we can help you.
Contact our experienced team in confidence today and we can provide free independent advice.
After losing my job, I started relying on credit cards and payday loans to get me through the month. As the debt build up, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the monthly payments and was hit with late penalties and added interest which only made the problem worse.
I was ignoring letters and phone calls, and dreading knocks on the door fearing it was bailiffs. This was when I knew I had to seek expert advice. After contacting Northern Ireland Debt Solutions, I felt an immediate sense of relief. Within a matter of days, the phone calls and threatening letters stopped, and I was finally able to move on with my life.
After burying my head in the sand for many years, I knew I had to face up to my debt problems. I was ashamed of the situation I had got myself in to, and it took a lot of courage to pick up the phone and make that first call to Northern Ireland Debt Solutions.
My adviser was sympathetic to my problems and I never felt as though I was being judged. He explained all of the options which were available to me and explained how each would work in my situation. While bankruptcy is a big step, I knew it was the best thing for my circumstances. I paid off what I could afford and the rest was written off. Three years on, I am in a much better place financially and able to look forward to the future.