What happens when I get an attachment of earnings order?
If you receive notification in writing from the county court that a creditor has applied for an attachment of earnings order, it’s important you don’t ignore this letter.
How to respond to an attachment of earnings order notification:
- The letter will include an N56 form for responding to the order. This document is also called the ‘statement of means’.
- You need to complete this form and return it within eight calendar days, along with a copy of your most recent wage slip.
- If you don’t reply you might get a summons to go to court for questioning. If you keep ignoring the court’s correspondence you could be prosecuted.
- You can also apply to the court at a later date to suspend the attachment of earnings.
An attachment of earnings can only be ordered by the court if you’re employed by someone else, you’re taxed on a ‘pay as you earn’ (PAYE) basis or receiving occupational pension.
What if I get an attachment of earnings order notification because of council tax arrears or a magistrates' fine?
If you receive an attachment of earnings order notification for either of these two reasons, you won't have to complete a statement of means form. This is because the order will be set at a fixed percentage of your income.
How much will I pay on an attachment of earnings?
The amount taken by an attachment of earnings is set by the court. They will set a protected minimum amount of income which you must get each month. This is called the protected earnings rate. The attachment will only be taken from earnings above this amount.
Your creditor won’t be able to get an attachment of earnings order if your take-home pay is always below the protected earnings rate.
You must inform the creditor straight away if you stop working or change jobs.
Can you stop an attachment of earnings order?
You can ask for the order to be suspended by ticking a box on the form N56 you received with the order and give your reasons. This is called asking for a ‘suspended attachment of earnings order’.
If the court accepts your reasons for suspending the attachment of earnings order it will be on the condition that you make the agreed payments. You can make these directly to the creditor rather than the court.
When the order is suspended:
- No money will be taken from your wages unless you fail to keep to the plan you’ve agreed with your creditor
- Your employer will not be informed
How would an attachment of earnings affect my debt solution?
If you’re on a debt management plan (DMP), and you have an attachment of earnings order applied to your wages, please get in touch with your DMP provider. Having an attachment of earnings is likely to mean you have less disposable income.
Your DMP provider will need to review your budget and make sure your monthly payment is still realistic for you. They can also advise you if there are any steps you can take to stop the attachment of earnings order.
If the original debt was included in an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), your creditor shouldn’t try to get an attachment of earnings order. Contact your IVA supervisor, who should ask them to stop. If you’re on an IVA and the debt wasn’t included, you’ll need to contact your supervisor so that they can discuss your options. You may be able to reduce your monthly payments to an affordable amount, if your creditors agree.
If you’ve gone bankrupt, you should contact your trustee. The trustee is usually the official receiver or Accountant in Bankruptcy administering your bankruptcy. They’ll be able to stop the attachment of earnings order or discuss your options with you.
If you’re 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, who should stop the attachment of earnings order. If it isn’t, you’ll need to contact the Insolvency Service. Your DRO may be revoked if this additional debt takes your overall debt level above £20,000.
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