If you are experiencing financial difficulties and cannot afford to pay your business rates, you should contact us immediately, so that we can check to make sure you receive the discounts and reliefs to which you may be entitled.

If you do not contact us, and continue to default on your payments, action will be taken to recover any money outstanding. This will involve the issue of a Magistrates' Court summons, and could result in enforcement agent action, insolvency or even committal to prison.

The Magistrates' Court summons

If you receive a summons, you should pay the full balance shown on the summons immediately. If you cannot pay the balance in full, please contact Customer Services on 01925 443210 to discuss payment. The council may be able to enter into a suitable payment arrangement with you to clear the business rates in full, without needing to take any further recovery action.

If you do not pay the full amount, or you fail to keep to the arrangement agreed, the council will apply to the court for a liability order against the account. This grants the council further powers to collect any amounts outstanding. The account will then be issued to an enforcement agent, who will collect the money on our behalf.

If you receive a letter warning of enforcement agent action, you should pay the full balance immediately. If you cannot pay the full balance, you should contact us, as there will still be time to make a payment arrangement. If you do not contact us, the account will be issued to the enforcement agent and will be subject to any additional costs that arise from an enforcement agent's actions.

Enforcement agent action

Once your account has been issued to the enforcement agent, you should make any payments directly to them. They may also be willing to make a short-term payment arrangement with you. If you still do not make payment, or default on an arrangement made with the enforcement agent, the council can authorise the enforcement agent to remove goods from your property. The goods will then be sold to cover the balance outstanding and the enforcement agent costs.

If the enforcement agent is unable to collect the amount due, the council may begin insolvency proceedings to wind up your company or put you into bankruptcy. As a last resort, the council retains the right to commence committal proceedings against sole traders, which could result in a term of imprisonment.