DEBTORS in Castle Point could face hundreds of pounds in charges if caught out owing council tax.

Bailiffs are being scrapped in place of new enforcement agents as part of major changes being bought in for the way debts are collected from April 6.

Under new Government regulations, enforcement agents will charge a debtor £75 on receiving a court order from the council to chase owed tax.

They will then try to contact the person to either get payment in full or set up a payment arrangement.

If they are unsuccessful and agents have to visit the debtor they will incur a further £235.

Pam Challis, leader of Castle Point Council, said: “The new fees are high but at least people will be aware of what they will be charged if they owe Council Tax or any other debt that has to be collected by an enforcement agent.”

Council tax dodgers are being warned not to get caught out by the increased fees and to contact the council as soon as possible to make payment arrangements.

Mrs Challis added: “If they do not do so by April 6 they will find themselves subject to the new fee structure if their case is placed in the hands of the enforcement agents.”

Residents could also face a £70 penalty if they do not make the council aware of any changes to their circumstances which could affect how much council tax they have to pay.

Mrs Challis is urging residents to check any reductions shown on their council tax bills when they arrive in March to see if it’s correct as checks will be carried out throughout the year.

For more information call First Contact on 01268 882200 or visit