How much do you pay back on an attachment of earnings? We discuss the AOE rates in this guide, as well as answer the most asked questions about Attachment of Earnings

If you have an ongoing debt to the council or have been issued with a CCJ already, you’ll need to know all about these types of orders. 

Read on for clear and quick answers to your burning questions – and contact a registered charity for tailored help and support! 

What is an attachment of earnings?

An attachment of earnings is an order to your employer to divert some of your wages to the court, which is then paid to creditors to repay existing debts. An attachment of earnings can only be issued after a CCJ has been issued, requesting that you pay back a creditor.

You can only be made to may the money in this way if you have an employer. If you are self-employed this type of debt enforcement is not possible. You’ll also need to owe the creditor at least £50.

There are some other groups of people who cannot be subject to these orders. Those who work in the navy or army will follow a different process, and some people who work on boats (not fishing boats) also cannot be subject to these orders. 

What is a County Court Judgment?

A county court judgment (CCJ) is a court order to pay a debt. A creditor will need to follow a number of steps before taking you to court, so you have a chance to make arrangements to pay, such as agreeing on a monthly payment.  

Once the CCJ has been issued and you fail to repay, the lender can apply to the courts to issue an attachment of earnings. 

There is always the chance that the lender will not apply. After a CCJ has been issued, there are other ways they can enforce repayment. They may prefer to use enforcement officers, also known as bailiffs. Or they could apply to put a charging order on a property you own. 

In any case, it is always advantageous if you can come to an arrangement to repay without the need for further legal actions and orders. 

Attachment of earnings and council tax debt

This type of order may also be used to collect tax arrears. If you owe your local council due to council tax arrears, the council may ask for an identical order to be issued so they can recover the tax owed. You will repay the council debt from your monthly wages until all of the council tax debt is repaid to the council. 

Your employer may charge a £1 administration fee when making deductions from your salary to pay the council tax debt

How much do you pay on an attachment of earnings?

The amount your employer will deduct from your salary each month will depend on your take-home pay and disposable income. The courts will write to you, informing you that the attachment of earnings is being considered. You’ll need to write back to provide information about your financial situation and any other debt in a Statement of Means form, also known as form N56. 

You’ll need to work out your budget and provide all details within this form and return it to the courts within eight calendar days. If you ignore the letter you could be asked in for questioning or even prosecuted.

However, the normal deduction is £25 each time. This is what is stated on the UK Gov website, but it is not set in stone. 

You may have paid an additional £1 admin costs to your company for arranging the transfer to the courts. 

What is the protected rate for 2021?

The protected earning rate is currently £150. If you are paid below this amount, you will not have anything taken out of your take-home pay. This limited amount is protected to make sure you can pay for essentials, such as food and rent. 

Attachment of earnings deductions for council tax

You do not receive a Statement of Means form if your attachment of earnings is being used to repay council tax debt. This is because the amount of money you repay to the council is already decided based on fixed weekly and monthly rates. 

Payments are worked out as a percentage of the amount you are paid, as follows:

Net week pay

£0-£75 = 0%

£75-£135 = 3%

£135-£185 = 5%

£185-£225 = 7%

£225-£355 = 12%

£355-£505 = 17%

£505+ = a minimum of £85.85 + 50% of everything above £505

Net month pay

£0-£300 = 0%

£300-£550 = 3%

£550-£740 = 5%

£740-£900 = 7%

£900 – £1,420 = 9%

£1,420 – £2,020 = 17%

£2,020+ = a minimum of £343.40 + 50% of everything above £2,020

Attachment of earnings order calculator

An attachment of earnings calculator can save you time working out what payment deductions would be made to pay the council debt. 

You can find these calculators by visiting local council websites, or by searching for an attachment of earnings calculator online. 

When does the money start being deducted?

Attachment of earnings deductions will begin when your employer next pays you after the order is applied unless the next payment date is within seven days. 

In this case, the following payment date is when your employer will start to send payments to the courts. 

What happens if I’m on maternity leave?

If you are on statutory maternity leave and are receiving no other form of employment income, you will not make any payments during this period. Statutory maternity pay is not subject to the attachment of earnings and no money will ever be taken from these payments.

And it’s good news for fathers because paternity pay isn’t either! 

Other statutory pay not deducted

There are related types of pay that are also not subject to the order, such as statutory paternity, statutory redundancy and statutory adoption pay. 

What happens if I’m off work sick?

Statutory sick pay is subject to an attachment of earnings, meaning your employer can take money from your sick pay and send it to the courts to repay your debts. However, people on sick pay are likely to receive below the protected earnings rate and will not have to pay anything during their sick leave.

Can I just get my employer to stop paying?

You are not allowed to ask your employer to stop sending money from your wage to the courts. It is an offence for the employer to ignore the attachment of earnings. 

Will an attachment of earnings affect my job?

An attachment of earnings will not affect your work unless you work in a specific role, typically in finance. You may be able to stop the attachment of earnings if you believe you will lose your career because of it.

Interestingly, some people who work in casinos can lose the license they need to do their job. When this happens, the worker can reapply for the license from the relevant body and continue working again. 

Can I make another arrangement that doesn’t involve my job?

If your order is suspended, you will be able to make repayments yourself and your place of work will not be informed about the debt. However, if just one of the instalments is not paid, the order will no longer be suspended.

The best course of action is to agree a way out before it gets to this stage. You could use a charity to help you negotiate. 

What happens if I change my work?

If you take up new employment, you must inform your new employer of the attachment of earnings within seven days. It is a serious offence to conceal this information. Your new employer will send money from your wage just like before. 

However, if you remain out of work for a long duration, you can write to the courts asking for them to cancel the attachment of earnings. It will not cancel your debt to your creditors, but you may want to write to them as well and ask them to consider writing off the remaining money you owe.

Can I stop an attachment of earnings order?

You may request for the attachment for earnings to be suspended. To do this you will have to tick an appropriate box on the Statement of Means form. If it is suspended, you will still be asked to repay the debt by sending repayments directly to your creditors. 

If you default on any of these, the suspended attachment of earnings will be activated, meaning your company will now take money from your wage and send it to the court. 

What is a consolidated attachment of earnings order?

If you already have one of these orders and are due another, you can request a consolidated order, which lumps all debt together so yous till only make one monthly payment from your take-home wage. 

However, if you go down this route, you will have to pay the courts an admin fee of 10%, which could cause it to take longer to repay. 

Debt solutions are available!

If you are dealing with multiple arrears and debt that you can’t afford to repay, you may want to consider your debt solution options. Read about the best debt solutions on our dedicated debt solutions page. 

You may even be able to write off some of your debt!

For example, a Debt Relief Order can be used to block all existing lenders from contacting you asking for you to repay – or prevent legal action – for a full year. If your financial situation doesn’t improve during that time, you could then get all debts written off. 

Find a confidential and registered debt advice charity!

If you need debt advice, consider using one of the registered charities across the UK. 

There are a number of excellent options that provide confidential and knowledgeable advice that’s completely free. 

Contact them on their website or over the phone to explain your financial circumstances. Their team will provide you with options and clarity, often reducing debtor stress and anxiety. 

And you are always welcome back to the MoneyNerd website to gather more valuable information about your debtor rights and loopholes! 

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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