Information

Council Tax Debt Court cases: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

Can you tell me why the scottish government has made it so that anybody who is allegedly owing the council money for services, the council can bypass lawful process's and procedures relating to a court and civil case, and why a court case for single person is denied any lawful procedure relating to a court case in court. 

In other words, why isn't anybody called to court when the council state they have a court judgment against them for alleged money owed to the council?

Response

Local Authorities use a legal process called summary warrants to recover money that is due to them. A summary warrant needs to be approved by the court but does allow Local Authorities and other public bodies such as HMRC to go ahead and carry out diligence without the need for someone attending court. Diligence is the term used for the various debt enforcement processes that are available in Scotland.

Before a Local Authority can ask the court to approve a summary warrant they need to take specific action, including issuing a Charge for Payment and notifying the person who owes the money of the potential impact of non-payment. A Charge for Payment is a legal document and gives 14 days to make payment. 

There are a number of organisations that can provide advice on how to deal with debt, including when a creditor is taking a diligence action such as an earnings arrestment, where the debt is recovered from someone‚Äôs salary.

Further information and details of where to get help is available at https://www.scotlandsfinancialhealthservice.gov.uk/, and includes contact details for organisations such as StepChange, Citizens Advice and Money Advice Scotland. Links to their websites are as follows:

www.moneyadvicescotland.org.uk
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/debt-and-money
www.stepchange.org/DebtadviceinScotland.aspx

Alternatively you can contact Citizens Advice Direct on 0808 800 9060 between 9am and 8pm Monday to Friday and between 10am and 2pm on Saturday.
Citizens Advice Scotland also delivers the Money Talk Team which is a free financial check up service, offering impartial advice and support to households. Council Tax Reduction is featured as part of the service. You can find out more at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/debt-andmoney/other-resources-related-to-debt-and-money/money-talk-team-s/ or by calling 0800 085 7145.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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