When Can Creditors take Debt from Wages?
Owing someone money means you might have the debt repayments taken out of your wages, through (either):
- A maintenance order (for unpaid maintenance payments).
- The county court judgment (CCJ) process for debt.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the local council can also take benefit overpayments from your earnings.
Note: You cannot ask your employer to ignore an ‘attachment of earnings order’ and you could both be fined for failing to follow its terms and conditions.
When the court sends an attachment of earnings order to you and your employer, it will state the amount owed, and:
- How and when the payments must be made.
- The total debt repayments that the employer is taking out of the wage. You can apply to change payments if they are unaffordable (see below).
Checking How Much You Still Owe
The Centralised Attachment of Earning Payments (CAPS) office will confirm the amount owed and the history of payments made. Be prepared to quote your case number if you contact CAPS by phone or email.
Note: The main section has detailed information about making court claims, debt recoveries, and registering for insolvency or bankruptcy.
Changing Your Debt Repayments
Often, it is possible to get debt repayments reduced, such as if you cannot afford to pay them or your personal circumstances change.
You can make an application to a court using form N244 ‘application notice‘. Fill in the document and send it to the same court that issued the order within fourteen (14) days of receiving it.
Paying Off Your Debt Quicker
To get the debt paid off more quickly you would need to discuss it with the person (or the company) to whom you owe money. Thus, for you to pay more, they would first need to agree to (either):
- Taking extra payments from the debtor (directly).
- Putting the court order on hold (as notified by the court) so that the debtor can pay more money directly to the creditor.
How to Report a Change in Circumstance
You would need to report any major changes in your circumstances (e.g. your home address) if you are having debt repayments taken from your wages.
Changing Your Name or Address
To change your name or your address you would need to inform the (all):
- Creditor (person or company you owe money to).
- Centralised Attachment of Earning Payments (CAPS) office.
- Court that issued the original order.
Changing or Losing Your Job
You must let the CAPS office know (address above) if you lose your job. Also, give them the new contact details if you change your employer.
Make a reply to an attachment of earnings application (County Court) using form N56. Fill in the document and send it to the same court that issued the original order.
How to get a ‘Notice of Discharge’
You will receive a ‘notice of discharge’ from the Centralised Attachment of Earning Payments (CAPS) office when you have paid off the debt.
They will also send a copy to the creditor and to your employer – so they can stop making debt deductions from your wages.
Note: Do you think you might have overpaid your debt payments? If so, ask the CAPS office to conduct a check and see whether you can get a refund.
Related Help Guides
- How to complain about bailiffs when they visit your home?
- Different options for paying off your debts to creditors.
- What to do when someone owes you money and refuses to pay?
Note: This short video [1:09 seconds] presented by The Insolvency Service explains what happens after a bankruptcy order is made in England and Wales.