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  1. #1
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi. I owe my local council quite a bit in council tax. I was willing to pay but was unable to agree a reasonable plan with B&S so they got an attachment of earnings for two amounts. That was fine as I wanted it do be sorted, although we were struggling a bit for money each month. In January I received a letter saying I now owed another years tax. I didn't dispute this and called them to make an arrangement because I knew there could only two AoE's. The man I spoke to told me that if I agreed to a set amount per month it'd cover all three amounts owed and that they'd stop the two current AoE's and I would then pay them the agreed amount each month. That was fine and I agreed to do this. They then said they'd stop the AoE'S which they failed to do in time so my employer sent the payments across as they had done previously. I called B&S who said ok theyd start the payment plan the following month. All was good. The next month they had again failed to completely stop the AoE's. So I contacted them again and they again said we'd start the payment plan the next month. At the end of March they still took some money via AoE so I called them. They now said I had defaulted on the agreement and want £600 NOW or a bailiff would be out to collect the remaining £2400 owed. I don't have £600. I explained everything that had gone wrong with them and their failure to stop the AoE's and that I was willing to pay the shortfall from March's payment. They refused insisting that they want £600 today. They would not listen to anything I said. I even pleaded with them but they have it in their tiny brains that I defaulted on the plan and that was that. Not their problem. They said if I don't pay I will go to jail. I have bipolar. I have told B&S the council this as I was advised by a debt charity as I may be a vulnerable household. We also have a child with mental health issues.

    What can I do to stop a magistrate sending me to jail? I'm not worried about the bailiff. I just won't answer the door.


    Thanks in advance for any advice. More info can be added if required.
    Last edited by Michelle1980; 12th April 2017 at 15:06:PM.

  2. #2
    Kati's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Debt is like any other trap, easy enough to get into, but hard enough to get out of.

    It doesn't matter where your journey begins, so long as you begin it...

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  3. #3
    lgfa92's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi. I owe my local council quite a bit in council tax. I was willing to pay but was unable to agree a reasonable plan with B&S so they got an attachment of earnings for two amounts.
    Out of curiosity, who issued the Attachment of Earnings ? (some local authorities delegate the powers to their enforcement agents)
    All was good. The next month they had again failed to completely stop the AoE's.
    One of the problems with AOEs is that quite often you can instruct the employer repeatedly to stop and they still take the deductions - it's not always that the instruction to stop hasn't been forwarded to the employer (it can cause no end of issues).
    . They now said I had defaulted on the agreement and want £600 NOW or a bailiff would be out to collect the remaining £2400 owed.
    Have you explained this to the local authority and asked them to instruct the enforcement agent to accept payment ?
    What can I do to stop a magistrate sending me to jail? I'm not worried about the bailiff. I just won't answer the door.
    It's still a distance away from a committal hearing yet so no need to worry about that at present.

    Craig

  4. #4
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi. Sorry for the delay in replying. I'll try to answer the questions you asked.

    Bristow & Sutor issued the AoE.

    I have not explained to the local authority because B&S said the council wouldn't deal with us now because the debt was with them. Should I call the council? Would they help?

    The person I spoke to implied that prison was the next step if full payment isn't made. I take it she was trying to intimidate me?

    If my employer hasn't stopped the AoE's at B&S's request how can I be held accountable? I feel like they've made some errors and I am now having to pay for them.
    Like I've said, I owe the money. Circumstances a couple of years ago meant I missed some payments. This escalated quite quickly. We were nearly made homeless. We're are in a slightly better place now and are willing to agree a payment plan like the one they decided cancel. They are refusing all offers though. They seem intent on coming to the house to take goods. They'd be better off accepting a payment plan because I have nothing. Tv is owned by work via a salary exchange scheme. Car is a a rental/company car. The only two items of value we have and we don't own them!

    Thanks for all replies and advice so far. Very much appreciated.

  5. #5
    Debt Camel's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Can I encourage you to report this bailiff story here: https://www.bailiffreform.org/. Several charities are trying to gether stories from across the country of situation where bailiffs haven't acted reasonably.

  6. #6
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi @busybody


    Quote Originally Posted by Busyboddy View Post
    Michelle. Your case appears a little confusing. First and foremost, I can assure you that you will not be going to jail over this. Furthermore, the council will have to pay for any committal hearing and as you are not refusing to pay the debt, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to obtain costs for that hearing. I would go as far as to say that not only is committal highly unlikely but also is an actual hearing..
    This is good to hear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Busyboddy View Post
    On to this AoE palaver. As I am reading the law/legislation, an authority may only use one enforcement power at any one time. This means that if an AoE has been applied, the enforcement power conferred to B&S as far as their role of bailiff has died. When this enforcement power dies, so do their fees. B&S will be administrating the AoE as administrators, NOT as bailiffs. There is no provision for B&S to charge any fees for administrating the AoE and I don't believe that they can add their fees to it. I certainly don't believe that they can chop and change between enforcement and AoEs randomly..
    I'm not sure how these things work. We received a letter from them saying they were applying for two AoE's which they got. We assumed it was them who were responsible for getting them. When we received a letter about the latest council tax bill we called them and that is when they offered us a very reasonable payment plan that would cover all tax owed and that would be £50 less per month than the AoE's for the previous two. It was a no brainer to us so we agreed and that is when all the problems started.



    Quote Originally Posted by Busyboddy View Post
    It might pay you to contact your council and ask what grounds they believe that B&S can interchange between an AoE and enforcing. If I am correct, there is no incentive whatsoever for B&S to administer an AoE because they will not be getting paid for it. I also believe that if the AoE is cancelled (as B&S appear to have done here) then the entire process of enforcement must start again and that means another notice of enforcement being sent out 7 clear days before an enforcement visit. During that period, you have the opportunity to enter into a repayment plan and as B&S have already been down this road once, they really ought to give serious thought to any sensible offer that you make, in order to avoid a repeat of what has happened thus far. In your letter, you also need to get the council to confirm that when the AoE was started, that all B&S fees up until that point were extinguished.
    We are going to the council tomorrow to talk to someone face to face and show them the letters B&S sent us about the payment plan etc. We were told by B&S that the council would no longer talk to us about the debt because it had been passed to them and all contact had to be through them only. We would have gone to them much sooner if we had known because as I have said, we owe the money and we want to sort it out.

    Thanks for your help so far.

    Michelle

  7. #7
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi yes I can do that.

  8. #8
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Some replies have gone from this thread? Was there a problem?

  9. #9
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    I've got advice from a debt charity who managed to delay a visit from B&S person for 28 days while I try to reorganise my finances in order to make an offer of a payment plan. I am told that unless I offer £250 per month MINIMUM, they are likely to refuse it. Can I use the money I should be paying for this years CT to put towards paying off what I owe? I know I will be in the same position again but I can't think of any other way to raise more money. We already struggle each month as it is.

  10. #10
    Amethyst's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Your Council Tax is a priority debt so no you shouldn't use money for paying the CT to pay this debt, as you are exactly right, you'll be in a circle lasting forever.

    Now who told you they wouldn't accept less than £250 a month ? Was that B&S ?

    Have you been through your income and expediture with the Debt charity ( who was it btw?) There's no way they should ever recommend using this years CT payments to pay for a CT debt for exactly the reasons you've said.

    Some posts were removed from your thread as there was a bit of a row going on between two people which was unrelated to you, so they've been deleted.
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  11. #11
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi Amethyst. The debt charity I have been in contact with is www.counciltaxadvisors.co.uk. I was told they were good. Not too sure now. They indicated in an email in response to us sending them a completed incomings/outgoings finance form that that the £150 or so per month for this year's tax could go towards paying of the tax owed which is the cause of all our problems. I didn't think it was a good idea when I read it. They were also the people who said any offer less than £250 would most likely be rejected.

    Regarding the missing posts, thanks for letting me know. I was worried I had made an error somewhere.


    Thanks
    Michelle

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    I have an idea why B&S want to do as they say. At present their options are limited with the 2 AoE Orders. By getting you to agree to placing the 3rd debt and paying a particular amount towards the total debt means they can then charge fees for the 3rd debt. At present with the 2 AoE then they can do nothing. As for CTA then personally I would steer clear as they are owned by Carrington Dean who seem to have more interest is setting up IVAs etc.

  13. #13
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi ploddertom. So they are best avoided then! Is there anyone else similar to them who are worth talking to? Thanks

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    ploddertom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle1980 View Post
    Hi ploddertom. So they are best avoided then! Is there anyone else similar to them who are worth talking to? Thanks
    It depends on what you want to do? If you want to speak to someone about other debts etc then Stepchange are probably as good as anyone else. If it is just about your CT issues then here is as good as anywhere else just make sure wherever you go the advice is free.

  15. #15
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    To start with I want to clear the council tax debt. That is my priority. The other debts will be sorted out in due course. I want to agree a payment plan with the council but fear they will again say that I have to deal with B&S who were pretty adamant that they wanted all of the money at once.

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    OK, let's deal with the AoE first, they can only run 2 at a time together but when 1 is paid off they can then again apply for another. Have you checked to see that the correct sums are being taken each time & have you also asked the Council to see how much has been paid over to them.

    The rates for AoE can be seen @ http://www.northampton.gov.uk/info/2...nt-of-earnings each Council operates similarly. Note well what it says about getting the order stopped. Sorry, also meant to say that the rates at which the 2nd Order is taken will be different from the first & usually will be lower.

  17. #17
    lgfa92's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    The 2nd AOE will be taken on the residual amount after the 1st order is deducted so to figure it you need to calculate your income and use the link above to check how much the 1st order is. Once you have done that you deduct the amount of the 1st order from your calculated income and use that reduced income to calculate the 2nd AOE amount.

    The big issue with an AOE is that the only people with the power to stop it are the council and/or any agent they provide the powers with to operate AOE's on their behalf. It would be worth contacting the council and asking they cease one of the attachments so that you can put the monies towards the current year to try and prevent any default on the ongoing (I regularly used to do that as I knew it could be re-issued if the need arose). Ultimately though B&S are agent of the council so the council can instruct them to take or cease any action (and are responsible for any actions taken by their agents).

    I've dealt with council tax advisors before when I was working for a local authority and the offers made were either very poor, so prejudicial to the client themselves that I used to contact the client direct to discuss or so incomplete that the offer could not be dealt (requests for further information often went unanswered).

    Craig

  18. #18
    Michelle1980's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Hi. Just to be clear, we already had two Attachment of Earnings in place for the first two debts owed. We were then sent the letter for this years council tax so called B&S to see what we could do. BIG MISTAKE! They offered us a new payment plan that meant the two previous AoEs would be cancelled by them and a new total would be payable per month that would cover all three debts. They said they would cancel the AoEs but for the first month they didn't because it was too late for my payroll to cancel so they said the agreement would start then next month and they said the AoEs would be cancelled in time for the next payday the following month. Only one was cancelled and after calling them we were told that they'd just recalculate the next month's total. They told us the both AoEs would be cancelled in time for the third month. Again some money was taken from my pay but not all. We called them and they said we had defaulted on the agreement and that they now wanted £600 immediately or they'd send a bailiff out to take control of goods. Despite them not keeping to their end of the deal we said that we were more than willing to resume the agreed plan that THEY offered us but they were having none of it and now we are where we are now. The are unwilling to accept any offers we made so we decided to get help and that is when we contact CTA. They managed to put B&S off for 28 days but informed us that any offer of less than £250 would likely be refused by the council. The frustrating part is that if we hadn't agreed to their offer back in January and carried on with the AoEs we would have cleared the first two debts by now. We'd be paying this year's council tax and would be free of arrears. We feel B&S have played us. The AoEs were not in their best interest so they made us an offer to cover all three debts and then made it difficult for us so they can say we defaulted so they can add charges. Maybe I'm being paranoid??

    Sorry for any confusion my poor explanations may cause. I have no idea what I am doing. Please ask if you need anything clarifying. I'll do my best to do so.

    Thanks for all the help so far. I really do appreciate it.

    Michelle.
    Last edited by Michelle1980; 30th April 2017 at 14:53:PM. Reason: Added information

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Bristow & Sutor playing games

    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle1980 View Post
    Hi. Just to be clear, we already had two Attachment of Earnings in place for the first two debts owed. We were then sent the letter for this years council tax so called B&S to see what we could do. BIG MISTAKE! They offered us a new payment plan that meant the two previous AoEs would be cancelled by them and a new total would be payable per month that would cover all three debts. They said they would cancel the AoEs but for the first month they didn't because it was too late for my payroll to cancel so they said the agreement would start then next month and they said the AoEs would be cancelled in time for the next payday the following month. Only one was cancelled and after calling them we were told that they'd just recalculate the next month's total. They told us the both AoEs would be cancelled in time for the third month. Again some money was taken from my pay but not all. We called them and they said we had defaulted on the agreement and that they now wanted £600 immediately or they'd send a bailiff out to take control of goods. Despite them not keeping to their end of the deal we said that we were more than willing to resume the agreed plan that THEY offered us but they were having none of it and now we are where we are now. The are unwilling to accept any offers we made so we decided to get help and that is when we contact CTA. They managed to put B&S off for 28 days but informed us that any offer of less than £250 would likely be refused by the council. The frustrating part is that if we hadn't agreed to their offer back in January and carried on with the AoEs we would have cleared the first two debts by now. We'd be paying this year's council tax and would be free of arrears. We feel B&S have played us. The AoEs were not in their best interest so they made us an offer to cover all three debts and then made it difficult for us so they can say we defaulted so they can add charges. Maybe I'm being paranoid??

    Sorry for any confusion my poor explanations may cause. I have no idea what I am doing. Please ask if you need anything clarifying. I'll do my best to do so.

    Thanks for all the help so far. I really do appreciate it.

    Michelle.
    The only real way to proceed now is contact the council and explain the situation - if you don't agree with their response then a formal complaint would be needed. If that doesn't work then the Local Government Ombudsman would be the next step.

    Craig

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