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Problems paying your Council Tax

Help if you're having problems paying your Council Tax, and the process we follow if you don't pay

Problems paying 

If you're having problems paying your Council Tax you must tell us. We may be able to help. Your bill will usually be spread over 10 months within the financial year. We may be able to stretch the bill over the full 12 months on request, reducing your monthly instalments.  

If you're on a low income, you may also be able to apply for Council Tax Support. For more information please see our Council Tax Support pages

If you're unable to pay your Council Tax we follow a recovery process, outlined below. 

Reminders

If you don't pay your Council Tax on time we'll send you a reminder notice. The reminder will ask you to pay within seven days. If you can't pay the reminder, you'll get a summons.

If you make the payment by the date requested, but miss another payment in the same financial year, you'll be sent a second reminder notice.

We only send two reminders within a financial year. If you miss a third payment, you'll get a summons.

Please note, we cannot set up a payment plan on a reminder notice, the notice must be paid in full.

Summons

If you don't pay following a reminder, a summons will be sent to you. You'll be summoned to court and we'll add £70 in court costs to the unpaid bill.

You don't have to go to the court hearing if you pay in full, including costs or arrange a payment plan with us before the court date.

What you'll need to set up a payment plan:

  • your Council Tax account number (this can be found on your bill)
  • to know what you can afford on a weekly or monthly basis

Set up a payment plan

Attachment of earnings 

If the court hearing grants a liability order, we can ask for certain information from you about your employment and earnings.

We can order your employer to recover the amount direct from your wages, and pay it straight to us. The amount will be a set proportion of your pay after certain other deductions (such as income tax and national insurance).  

Benefit deductions 

If you're receiving a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit, we may be able to apply for deductions to be taken from your benefit.

14 Day or 48 hour notices

If you have set up a payment plan with us before, but have fallen behind with it, you may receive a 14 Day or 48 hour notice. These demand urgent payment of your bill.

You can still set up a payment plan to pay the notice by instalments. It's important you keep up with payments. If you miss a payment, the debt will be passed to an enforcement agency to recover.

What you'll need to set up a payment plan:

  • your Council Tax account number (this can be found on your bill)
  • to know what you can afford on a weekly or monthly basis

Set up a payment plan

Enforcement action

If you've been unable to come to an arrangement to pay, we can employ Enforcement Agents to recover the debt. 

If you're unable to pay the outstanding debt in full, the enforcement agent may remove possessions from your home. They will sell the goods to cover the costs of your bill.

Other options for enforcement action include:

  • bankruptcy proceedings
  • applying a charging order against a property you own; the amount you owe will be paid when the property is sold

Further action

If you're still unable to pay, you can go to prison. We'll only take this step when other efforts have failed. A warrant will only be issued if the failure to pay is the result of wilful refusal or culpable neglect. The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.

Budgeting tool

The first vital step in taking control of your finances is to create your own personal budget plan.

Try our user-friendly budget planner:

  • completely free to use
  • only takes minutes to complete if you have all your financial information to hand

Create a budget plan

Shelter

Shelter offer free, confidential debt and money advice and can help with debt problems including:

  • housing arrears
  • utility bill debts – gas, electricity and water
  • debt collection companies or creditors
  • hire purchase, credit card or loan arrears

For further information see the Shelter website.