If you do not pay your business rates and do not bring your balance up-to-date after correspondence with the council, your account could be passed to an enforcement agent.

An annual bill is sent to every business rates payer every March listing the instalments due from April. A standard payment schedule will be for 10 instalments monthly on 1st of each month from April to January. To request a different payment schedule please contact the Revenues and Benefits Service. To organise and make payments please visit Pay your business rates.
If any instalment is not paid in full on time a reminder notice will be sent advising the amount overdue. If this is not paid within 7 days, then legally the entire amount owing for the year will need to be paid within the next 7 days. Only two reminders will be sent in any one year, any further late payments may lead to a summons. If the amount is not paid as advised on the reminder you may be sent a summons for court.
When a summons is issued costs are added on to the account and must be paid along with the rest of the outstanding balance. Further costs are added if the account is not paid in full and a liability order is granted by the court.

2023/24 costs:

  • Summons costs £112.50
  • Liability order costs £16.00

You only need to attend court if you wish to contest the reason for non-payment. Please contact the council in advance to advise us of this so we are more prepared for your case. If we are unprepared to deal with your queries the case may be adjourned and you would have to attend a second time.
A payment arrangement will be detailed on the summons and you should pay in accordance with this arrangement. If you are unable to do so, please contact us rather than attend court.
A liability order allows the council to send the debt to an Enforcement Agent (previously known as bailiffs) for collection if your payment arrangement is not kept to.
The enforcement agent must:

  • carry official identification at all times
  • carry written authorisation to act on behalf of the council
  • produce the above items if asked to identify themselves
  • issue an official receipt for payments

Compliance Stage

If the Business Rate debt is sent to an enforcement agent, they will send a notice asking for payment in full. A £75 fee will be added to the debt. If you cannot pay in full, you will need to contact the enforcement agent to discuss a payment arrangement.

If you do not pay in full or keep to your payment arrangement, your account will be passed to the Enforcement Stage.

Enforcement Stage

The enforcement agent will visit your property to collect the debt outstanding. If the account gets to this stage, a minimum of £235 fees will be added to the account. If you owe more than £1500, the fees will be higher.

If you are unable to pay the debt in full, the enforcement agent will:

  • make a list of your goods
  • make a controlled goods agreement with you
  • agree on a payment arrangement to clear the debt within a maximum of 6 months

You should make a payment arrangement with the enforcement agent and provide details of your income and outgoings if asked to do so.

If you are out when the enforcement agents call, they will leave details for you to contact them. You should contact them straightaway to avoid further action being taken.

If you cannot agree on a payment arrangement and do not have enough goods to meet the debt, a report is sent to the council who will decide what further action to take.

Controlled Goods Agreement

This is an agreement which allows you to keep the goods listed by the enforcement agent as long as you keep to the agreed payment arrangement. If you fail this arrangement, you will be given 7 days to bring your payments up to date.

Subsequent visits

If the enforcement agent has obtained a controlled goods agreement and you fail to keep to your payment arrangement, the enforcement agent will call again and may take away the items listed in the controlled goods agreement

What goods can be taken?

The Enforcement Agent can only take goods that belong to you. This does not include:

  • fixtures and fittings
  • goods on hire purchase
  • goods which are rented
  • items necessary for use in connection with your employment  - 'tools of the trade' if their value is less than £1350
  • business necessities 


Fees are non-negotiable and the only way to avoid them is to pay the balance in full or to set-up and maintain a payment arrangement.

Where goods are sent to auction, you will be charged more costs and fees.


If you have any complaint to make about the actions of the enforcement agent, complaints can be made directly to the enforcement agent company.