We aim to make our website as accessible as possible. However if you use a screen reader and require debt advice you may find it easier to phone us instead. Our phone number is 0 8 0 0 1 3 8 1 1 1 1. Freephone (including all mobiles).
woman paying at the checkout

Worried about an attachment of earnings?

We're here to help. Take two minutes to find the right support for your situation.

Get debt help

i The advice on this page applies to residents in England and Wales only.

What is an attachment of earnings order?

An "attachment of earnings order" allows money to be taken from your wages to pay a debt.

  • Your employer sends the money to the court that made the order
  • Then the court sends this money to the people you owe

This is different from a 'direct earning attachment' (DEA).

  • A DEA is for benefits, tax, or tax credits overpayments
  • You do not need to attend court for it to be made

Are you worried about making payments? Contact us for free, confidential debt advice.

What happens when I get an attachment of earnings order?

The County Court will write to tell you someone applied for an attachment of earnings order.

Do not ignore this letter.

How to respond to an attachment of earnings order notification:

  • The letter will include an N56 form or ‘statement of means', for you to respond with:
    • Complete this form
    • Attach a copy of your most recent wage slip
    • Return them both to the court within eight calendar days
  • If you do not reply:
    • You might get a summons to go to court for questioning
    • You can be prosecuted if you continue ignoring them
  • You can later ask the court to pause the order

This order can only be ordered by the court if:

  • You work for someone else
  • You are taxed on a ‘pay as you earn’ (PAYE) basis
  • You receive an occupational pension

Beware of scam emails


The writer may claim to be a bailiff, the FCA, or a “credit investigator”.

Use this checklist:

  • Does the email include details of the debt?
  • They should tell you what the debt is and who you owe
  • What address was the email sent from? It is likely fake if:
  • The email domain does not match the company they say they are
  • It is from a personal account like Google or Hotmail
  • The address quite long and full of numbers
  • Does the company have a website?
  • How about Google reviews?
  • Check the list of CIVEA members
  • Check the list of HCEO members
  • Look for red flags in how they talk about money
  • Do they want a referral fee?
  • Do they want a large lump sum?

A debt advisor can tell you if this email is real.

Get debt advice now

Council tax arrears or magistrates' fines

An attachment of earnings order for council tax arrears or a magistrate's fine is set at a fixed percentage of your income.

This means you do not have to complete a statement of means form.

How much will I pay?

The amount taken by an attachment of earnings is set by the court.

They set a protected minimum amount of income which you must get each month. This is called the "protected earnings rate".

  • The attachment will only come from earnings over this amount
  • You cannot get an attachment of earnings order if you are paid below this rate

You must tell the people you owe if you stop working or change jobs.

Can you stop an attachment of earnings order?

Yes. You can ask for a ‘suspended attachment of earnings order’ by:

  • Ticking the box on the N56 form
  • Giving your reasons

The court may accept your reasons if:

  • You agree to make arranged payments directly to the people you owe

If the order is suspended:

  • Your employer will not be told about it
  • No money will be taken from your wages. Unless you fail to pay what you owe

How would it affect my debt solution?

If you are on a debt management plan (DMP):

Get in touch with your DMP provider. This can affect how much you can use to pay your debts through your DMP.

Your DMP provider will need to:

  • Review your budget
  • Make sure your monthly payment is still realistic
  • See if there are any steps you can take to stop the order

If you are on an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA)

For included debts:

  • Your creditors should not try to get this order
  • Contact your IVA supervisor to tell them to stop

For debts not included:

  • Contact your supervisor so that they can look at options
  • You may be able to reduce your monthly payments

If you have gone bankrupt:

Contact your trustee (usually the official receiver or Accountant in Bankruptcy).

They can:

  • Stop the order
  • Discuss your options with you

If you are in a debt relief order (DRO):

Check if the debt is included in your DRO.

If it is:

  • Send a copy of your DRO to the creditor
  • They should stop the attachment of earnings order

If it is not:

  • Contact the Insolvency Service
  • Your DRO may be cancelled if your overall debt level above £20,000
  • Worried about debts?

Money worries?

Find out how we can help you.

Get help now

CCJs and attachment of earnings orders

If you do not pay what you owe through a CCJ, your creditor can apply for an attachment of earnings.

Ignoring the letter could lead to:

  • Getting a court summons
  • Prosecution

Learn more about dealing with County Court judgments (CCJs).

Council tax arrears and attachment of earnings

Your local authority can set up an attachment of earnings order for council tax arrears.

  • Up to two council tax debts can be taken from your wages at the same time
  • A larger amount might be taken if you have arrears from two years’ worth of council tax

Child maintenance arrears: deduction from earnings order

Child maintenance arrears use a different order. This is the deduction of earnings order (DEO).

This is set by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), not the court.

  • They will set a ‘protected’ minimum amount of income
  • Payments will only come from earnings above this amount

You do not need to be in arrears for CMS to enforce a DEO.

Ongoing payments can be taken by DEO if you:

  • Do not pay the correct amount
  • Do not pay on time

Paying criminal fines in instalments

Criminal fine from a magistrates’ court can be taken from your wages.

  • The amount will be a set percentage of your income
  • The more you earn, the higher the amount taken

If you have a summons to attend court:

  • Go to the hearing
  • Take a copy of your budget
  • Give the court details of your income and expenses
  • Explain what you can afford
  • Ask to pay the fine in instalments

The court may still make the order, especially if you have missed payments in the past.

"They were so kind, they listened patiently and helped me through the process" Alison, Kent

Help and advice

Try speaking to your trade union rep, or the ACAS helpline.

You may also want to check your employment contract to understand your employer’s policy towards a member of staff who receives an attachment of earnings order.

Take two minutes to answer a few simple questions so we can understand the best way to help you.

Our expert advisors will:

  • Put together a personal budget
  • Give you advice on your situation
  • Explain your rights