Difficulties paying and what happens if I don't pay


Are you having trouble paying?

  • If you are struggling to pay, don't put things off. You should contact the Council Tax team as soon as possible. You can then discuss the instalment options that will suit you best and avoid recovery action and extra costs.
  • You can apply for Council Tax Reduction if you pay Council Tax and your income and capital (savings and investments) are below a certain level.
  • If you're getting Council Tax Reduction, you can apply for extra help through our Discretionary Scheme
  • We don’t want to take action against you for non-payment of Council Tax unless we really have to - but if you don’t pay or don’t get in touch with us, we will be obliged to take recovery action to collect the debt.
  • You can get independent financial advice from Moneyworks and debt advice from these agencies.

How we recover unpaid Council Tax

  • We will send you a bill telling you how much is due and when to pay.
  • If you think the bill is wrong you should contact us immediately.
  • If payments are not received by the dates shown on the bill, we will send you a reminder notice. You can opt to receive text messages to remind you to pay before a reminder is sent.
  • If you don’t make a payment as detailed in the reminder notice, we will issue a court summons for the full outstanding balance.
  • If you pay the amount asked on the first reminder but then fail to pay a second time, you will be sent another reminder, stating the amount required to bring your account up to date. No further reminders will be sent.
  • If you do not pay as required on the second reminder notice, we will issue a court summons for the full outstanding balance.

Court summons

  • If a court summons is issued, costs of £100.00 will be added to your bill.
  • To avoid further costs, contact us before the court date to set up an instalment plan. The court has no power to agree to instalments at the hearing - this has to be done with the council.

Court hearing

  • You do not need to attend in person at the Magistrates’ Court unless you dispute that you are liable for the outstanding amount of Council Tax shown on your court summons.
  • If you do want to dispute that you are liable for the amount shown on your court summons, or if you believe that the amount shown is wrong, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your concerns as we may be able to resolve any errors or misunderstandings without the need for a court hearing.
  • If you do not pay in full (including the costs) or contact us before the date of your hearing, we will ask the Magistrates’ Court for a Liability Order for you to pay the full amount you owe, plus costs. If a Liability Order is granted by the court, additional costs of £22.50 will be added to your bill bringing the total costs to £122.50

Liability Orders

A Liability Order is a court order that gives the council greater powers to enforce the recovery of unpaid Council Tax using a range of options which includes:

  • an attachment to your earnings (money taken directly from your wages through your employer - the percentage of your earnings deducted will vary depending on your pay)
  • an attachment to your benefits (money taken directly from your benefits such as Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit)
  • Enforcement Agents (formerly known as bailiffs) removing goods to the value of the debt to be sold at public auction (you will also have to pay the Enforcement Agents' fees)
  • bankruptcy proceedings (considered for debts over £5,000)
  • registering a Charging Order against your property (considered for debts over £1,000)
  • prison (a prison sentence of up to 3 months)

Before we consider any of the above options we will send you a letter requesting that you contact us to provide information about your financial circumstances and to discuss instalment proposals as an alternative to the above options.

Further recovery action

Recovery action, incurring further costs, will be taken if you:

  • do not provide the required information about your financial circumstances
  • fail to maintain the arrangement agreed based on the information provided