If you are having difficulty paying your council tax, please contact us as soon as possible. We may be able to help you. Do not leave the matter until court action has been taken, as this will result in you paying additional costs. It is possible that an alternative payment arrangement can be agreed with you, and formal recovery action can often be avoided.
If you don’t pay your council tax you will be sent a reminder notice. A final notice may be issued if your account falls into arrears during the financial year, where you have already been sent a reminder. At this stage you lose the right to pay by instalments and the remaining balance for the year becomes due.
Where the reminder notice is not paid in full within seven days, the account will be subject to formal recovery action and a court summons for non-payment will be issued. This will also happen if the balance on any final notice issued is not paid in full by the due date.
If you still don’t pay
If you can’t come to a payment arrangement, or fail to pay the agreed amount, we can ask the Magistrates’ Court for a ‘Liability Order’. This is a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe, plus costs.
You have the right to attend the court and say why you think you shouldn’t have to pay. Even if you decide not to attend court, you should speak to us or Citizens Advice. We will try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment.
If you ignore the court order
We can take the following action to recover the money you owe:
- request that your employer make a deduction from your earnings
- request that the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) make a deduction from your benefit if you are in receipt of Income Support, Jobseekers' Allowance or Employment Support Allowance
- instruct an Enforcement Agency (formerly known as bailiff company) to recover the outstanding debt from you
We can send our Enforcement Agents to your home to seize property to sell. We will write to you 2 weeks before their first visit saying how much you owe.
You can contact us and the Enforcement Agency to agree a payment plan. However, if the Enforcement Agent visits you their costs could be added to your bill. View more information on our Enforcement Agency.
If all alternative methods of collection have been unsuccessful and you still owe us money we can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a warrant to send you to prison.
You will be summonsed to appear before the Magistrates Court. At this hearing, the Council will outline the non payment of Council Tax and will ask the Court to consider your committal to prison for a period of up to three months for failing to pay your Council Tax.
You (or your legal representative) will be asked to explain why you have not paid your Council Tax, and your current and previous financial circumstances will be explored. The Magistrate will then make a decision regarding the matter.
The court may decide to postpone imprisonment on certain conditions, like you agreeing to repay the debt over time. The court can also cancel all or part of the debt.