A woman worried about an Attachment of Earnings Order

Attachment of Earnings Order – What You Need to Know

If you do not comply with the terms of a county court judgment, the creditor can make an application to the court for payments to be deducted directly from your salary.

Attachment of Earnings orders are a court-mandated instruction for your employer to deduct payments from your wages to pay towards the debt. Once your employer sends the money to the original court, that institution will then forward the funds directly to your creditor.

An AOE Order is different to a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA). A DEA can be made without you having to attend court when you’ve had benefit, tax or tax credits overpayments or child maintenance arrears.

It is possible to have more than one attachment if more than one creditor applies for an Order

I Have Received an Attachment of Earnings Order – What Should I Do?

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. If you do not dispute the debt, you will be required to complete and return the N56 Form within the required time limit.

N56 Form

You will be sent a N56 form which you must complete and return to the county court as soon as possible. It is a criminal offence to ignore this request.

The N56 form is a means based form so you will be required to provide your personal details including details of your current employer. You will also be required to complete a budget summary of your income and expenditure providing a breakdown of your monthly income and outgoings. You will also have to confirm how many dependents live in the household that you are responsible for.

The form allows you to offer a figure you can afford, you should complete this but be sure to include details of any other creditors commitments you have and what you are required to pay towards those each month.

The court may agree to issue a Suspended Attachment of Earnings Order if they feel that your employment prospects will be harmed if your employer becomes aware of the original Order.

If this is the case you will be required to make the monthly payments directly to the court yourself.

It is important that you maintain these payments as if you default, the court can enforce the original order and your employer would then be notified to apply the Order.

If you don’t return the completed form, you are likely to receive a summons to go to court for questioning. If you keep ignoring the court’s correspondence you could be prosecuted.

I Don’t Agree With The Attachment of Earnings Order – What Can I Do?

If you disagree with the order you should write to the county court officer, keeping a copy of your letter, and explain your reasons for objection. A judge will then then set a date for you to attend the county court and make your case.

You should attend taking all the evidence that is relevant to your defense, including evidence of how you have worked out your budget such as wage slips and evidence of your outgoings.

I Have Received an Attachment of Earnings Order for Council Tax Arrears

If you receive an Attachment of Earnings order notification for council tax arrears, 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 and is based on a sliding scale depending on your average income.

You can have an Order for up to 2 council tax debts which would mean your monthly payment deductions would be higher on this basis.

How much will I pay on an attachment of earnings?

For most debts, the amount taken by the Order 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 Order will set an agreed payment and will only be taken from earnings above this amount.

If your net income is below the protected earnings rate, creditors will not be granted an Attachment of Earnings Order.

As noted earlier, if you have a council tax debt or a court fine, the amount deducted will be based solely on amount you earn and is percentage based on a sliding scale. The more you earn, the higher the percentage deducted.

You must inform the creditor straight away if you stop working or change jobs. If this applied to you, it is your obligation to inform the court of your new employer’s details so that your new employer can be notified of the Attachment of Earnings Order.

I am Already Using a Debt Solution – How Will an Attachment of Earnings Order Affect This?

If you currently have a debt management plan (DMP) and an Attachment of Earnings order is applied to your wages, please contact your DMP provider as soon as possible. The implication of the Order will mean you have less disposable income.

Your Debt management provider will need to review your budget and make sure your monthly payment is still realistic for you after accounting for the reduction in your take home pay. They can also advise you if there are any steps you can take to stop the attachment of earnings order.

If the original debt is part of an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), then your creditor shouldn’t try to get an Attachment of Earnings Order. If this is happening, contact your IVA supervisor and they will ask the creditor to stop.

However, if you’re on an IVA but the debt wasn’t included originally, you’ll need discuss different options with your supervisor.

If you’ve gone bankrupt, you should contact the Official Receiver (or Trustee if one has been appointed). They will be responsible for liaising with the court and the creditor to stop the Order or discuss your options with you if it is not covered by the bankruptcy.

Check if the debt you’re inquiring about is included in your DRO. If it is, send a copy of your DRO to the creditor and they should stop the Attachment of Earnings Order. However, if the debt isn’t included in your DRO, you’ll need to contact the Insolvency Service. It’s important to note that if this additional debt takes your overall debt level above £30,000, then your entire DRO may be revoked.

I Need Further Debt Advice

If you have a county court judgment or have received notification of an Attachment of Earnings Order and are struggling to repay your debts, please contact us here at Become Debt Free and speak to one of our professional and friendly advisors who will discuss your circumstances and provide details of what options you have.

We can help discuss how to respond to the notification from the court or we can provide free debt advice on the various debt solutions suited to your circumstances such as a Debt Management Plan, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, Bankruptcy or a Debt Relief Order.

Alternatively, you could contact a registered charity such as Citizens Advice for further free advice.

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Customers can get free debt advice from the Money Advice Service – an organisation set up by the Government to offer free and impartial advice to those in debt. For more information from the Money Advice Service visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk. MAS is part of the Money & Pensions Service. We are not affiliated with MAS in any way.

Become Debt Free is a trading style of Re10 (Finance) Limited Registered Number 04651137.  Data Protection Act Registration Number – Z8613095

Become Debt Free specialise in providing and administering Individual Voluntary Arrangement (“IVA”) solutions to individuals based in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  We do not administer Debt Management Plans, Debt Relief Orders, or any other debt solutions.  We only provide advice after completing or receiving an initial fact find where the individual(s) concerned meets the criteria for an IVA, therefore, all advice is given in reasonable contemplation of an insolvency appointment.

* To qualify for debt write off in an IVA with us, you must have a minimum of £7,000 of qualifying unsecured debt owed to two or more creditors.  The amount of debt write off is based on your own personal circumstances – typically this could be up to 85% of what you owe; and this has been achieved by over 10% of our customers who have successfully completed their IVA’s in the last 12 months.  The amount of debt write off differs for each customer and is dependent upon their individual financial circumstances and subject to the approval of their creditors.

Andrew Bowers is authorised in the UK to act as Insolvency Practitioner by the Insolvency Practitioners Association.


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