Earnings Arrestment Orders – Scotland
How to stop an Earnings Arrestment Order
If you have received an earnings arrestment order letter from a sheriff officer (sometimes known as wage arrestment) and you are unsure on what to do next, our guide will explain what exactly is an earnings arrestment order, why you have received one, and how to go about stopping it.
When can you receive an earnings arrestment order?
Councils can use an earnings arrestment order as one method to recollect unpaid council tax debt. Before this arrestment order can be applied, councils are required to follow a set of guidelines outlined by law.
If you fail to pay your monthly council tax bill, you will be sent a reminder letter. This will usually give you 7 days to pay the outstanding balance due.
If you still fail to pay the amount owed within 7 days of receipt of the reminder letter, the council will send you a final notice reminder. This will state that you now have 14 days to pay the outstanding council tax for the full year, as your right to pay by instalments has been waived.
If you wish to speak to one of our specialist advisors about dealing with an earning arrestment order. Call us on 0141 255 2634, alternatively, please complete and submit the form above. Our advisors provide free independent professional advice and guidance.
Failing to pay your council tax after receipt of the final notice letter or if you do not contact the council to set up an arrangement will result in further action taking place. The council now has the option to proceed and apply for a summary warrant from the sheriff court.
Sheriff officers are registered as private companies who have been granted additional power through the sheriff court to enforce a court order e.g. summary warrants. Councils can hire sheriff officers to recover unpaid council tax debt on their behalf through the use of a summary warrant. Some of the largest sheriff companies in Scotland include Scott & Co, Stirling Park, and Walker Love to name just a few.
Once you receive a summary warrant from a sheriff officer, it will state how much is outstanding including an additional 10% penalty on top. There will be contact details for the sheriff officer you need to get in touch with to set up a repayment plan for council tax.
You will be given 14 days to contact the sheriff officer and set up a suitable arrangement. If you need additional help with this, call us on 0141 255 2634 and a specialist advisor can mediate and negotiate an affordable repayment plan for you. We provide a free impartial service giving expert advice where required.
If you’re unable to make a suitable arrangement with the sheriff officer, they may request further information from you. They will ask for your current employer’s name and registered address, your national insurance number, bank account details, and/or the name and address of any other party who is also liable to pay your council tax. If you are unable to provide the above details within 14 days, you may incur a fine.
Once this takes place, the council will return to the sheriff court to apply for a charge for payment. This generally lasts for around 14 days. If you have yet to set up a suitable repayment plan to clear your council tax debt before this happens, sheriff officers can proceed to take any money owed with the information you have provided them with. There are a number of different methods that can be used. These include:
- Freeze your bank account(s)
- Take money directly from your bank account(s)
- Remove belongings from your home and sell them
- Put an earnings arrestment order in place
What is an earnings arrestment order?
An earnings arrestment order will require your employer to subtract money from your payslip. Employers will carry this out automatically and the deducted amount will be sent to the court. This process will continue to reoccur until the outstanding council tax balance is paid in full.
The court will determine how much will be taken from your wage slip each time you’re paid. The amount owed will include your council tax debt, admin costs for both your employer and the sheriff, plus any interest due.
A set percentage is used to calculate how much is taken from your wages. This will ultimately depend on how much you earn in any given period. This amount includes bonus, commission, overtime, and even statutory sick pay. This amount does not factor in any other debts you’re currently repaying or your weekly/monthly expenditure.
You can expect to be left with at least a minimum of 60% of your net income (this is your income after tax and national insurance). If your earnings vary, the deductions will also differ to reflect this.
An earnings arrestment can often cause severe financial difficulty. If you would like specialist advice on how to stop this, call us today on 0141 255 2634 or alternatively complete and submit the form above to request a call-back from our expert advisors.
Under some circumstances, an earnings arrestment cannot take place. If you receive an unemployment benefit such as jobseeker’s allowance, employment support allowance or income support, you are exempt. This also applies to those who are self-employed or are in the armed forces.
For an earnings arrestment order to be validated, all the previous requirements above will have to have been applied beforehand. You should have also received a debt advice and information package. This pack provides advice and guidance on how to deal with different types of debt and what options are available to you. If you do not receive this pack, your earnings arrestment order may be deemed invalid.
Under some circumstances, there can be severe consequences with an earnings arrestment order. Check your employment contract and consult with your employer to see if any disciplinary action will take place. In a worst case scenario, your job may be at risk.
How to stop an earnings arrestment order?
Fortunately, there are a number of options available to stop an earnings arrestment order from taking place or stopping one that is already in place.
Ask your council to see if they are able to set up a repayment plan with you. Depending on which stage the council is at, they may agree to do this. You can then apply for a suspended attachment of earnings order through the sheriff court. If you are successful with this method, ensure you make your repayments on time, or you could face another earning arrestment order.
If an earnings arrestment order will affect your job in any way through disciplinary action, you may be able to pursue a claim to stop the order from happening.
There are a number of wider financial solutions available to you. A Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) is a debt payment programme that is managed by the Scottish Government. If you have a debt payment programme in place, this means you’re making a commitment to repay your debts based on your disposable income (the amount you’re left with after your monthly bills). This can last for as long as it takes to repay the amount owed. An independent financial advisor will be able to negotiate with your creditors on your behalf. Once a plan is in place, any additional fees, penalties or interest may be frozen. Your creditors are unable to take further action against you.
If your debts exceed £5,000, you may wish to consider a Trust Deed. A Trust Deed transfers your rights to a registered trustee. The trustee will negotiate a repayment plan with your creditors for you. For a fixed duration, you will pay a specific amount each month that is agreed between your creditors and the trustee. This trustee must be a registered insolvency practitioner.
Where can I get help with an earnings arrestment order?
If you are facing an earnings arrestment order, no matter what stage you’re at, it is strongly recommended to get specialist help.
Contact our expert team of advisors to see what options are available to you. Our team have been trained to give you the right advice and help you negotiate an affordable and sustainable repayment plan based on your affordability. There may be options to stop your earnings arrestment from taking place or remove it if it’s already in place.
Call us today on 0141 255 2634 for free impartial advice and guidance. Alternatively, complete the form below to request a call-back.
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