Problems paying Council Tax?
If you're struggling to pay your bill please get in touch with
us, don't wait for a reminder or another threatening letter.
Before you contact us
You need to work out how much you can offer to pay us.
List all the money you have coming in - yours’ and your
partner's take home pay, benefits, income from people who live with
you, and regular income such as works pension or maintenance.
Then list where your money goes - your rent and mortgage are the
most important bills. Council Tax payments take priority over debts
such as credit cards, catalogues and loans.
What happens if I don't pay?
When we sent your Council Tax bill we told you how much you had
to pay and when. If you don't pay as requested:
- You receive a reminder notice
If you're making regular payments, but pay later than the dates
shown on your Council Tax bill, you may receive a reminder notice
because your payments are late. If you want to change the date your
payment is due - contact us and we can setup a Direct Debit.
This notice will remind you it’s overdue and to bring your payments
up to date within seven days.
- You receive a second reminder notice
If we’ve sent you one reminder already, and you paid it on time,
but you’re late in paying an instalment again we’ll send you a
A second reminder will warn you that the next time you’re late in
paying, you’ll get a final notice or you may even get a
- You receive a final notice
A final notice will tell you that we’ve cancelled your
instalments. It will also tell you that you have to pay everything
you owe for the rest of the year within seven days.
- You receive a court summons
A magistrates court summons will be issued if you make an
arrangement to pay but don’t keep it up to date, if you don’t pay
anything, if pay some but not the entire bill or if you ignore the
final reminder entirely. We won’t send any further warnings before
we do this. If we send a summons, you will be charged for court
It’s always best to contact us if you can’t pay your bill on
What happens once a summons is issued?
If you get a summons you can do one of the following:
- Pay the full amount shown on the summons, including the court
costs of £104, before the date of the hearing.
- Contact us and we’ll try and help you. We might be able to make
an arrangement with you to pay what you owe. We’ll ask you about
finances and look at your payment records before we agree to do
this. You’ll still have to pay the summons.
Do I have to go to court?
If you do intend to be at a court hearing please ring us in
advance to discuss your account.
It's your right to appear in court if you've been summoned
however you don't have to attend. A court cost of £104 will be
added to your account regardless of whether you attend or not.
At the hearing, magistrates will be asked to grant a liability
order. If you attend, the magistrates will ask if you have a valid
defence which will stop a liability order being granted.
Defences that the magistrates will take into account before
deciding to grant a liability order are:
- That you've paid the amount shown on the summons in full before
the hearing, including the costs.
- You're not the person who should be responsible for paying the
- We've not sent you the bill, reminder or summons
Please not that we only have to prove notices were sent to you,
we don't have to prove that you have received them.
If you don't have a valid defence, the magistrates will grant a
The following are not valid defences:
- You can't afford to pay
- You've applied for Council Tax Support, or a discount,
exemption or other reduction; or
- You've an outstanding appeal with the Valuation Office.
What is a liability order?
A liability order is granted by the magistrates to give the
council more powers to help recover outstanding Council Tax.
A liability order allows us to take any of the following actions
if you don't pay your Council Tax, we can:
- Use enforcement agents who may take your goods to sell to cover
the amount you owe;
- Demand information about your job or benefits;
- Take money from your wages;
- Take money from certain state benefits;
- Take money from your allowance if you're an elected member of a
- Ask for a 'charging order' to be made against your
- Start bankruptcy proceedings against you
- Apply for you to be sent to prison.
Some of these recovery actions may increase the amount you owe
by adding costs, to avoid these additional costs you should make
arrangements with us to pay.
What happens if an Enforcement Agent is sent to my home?
As part of a liability order, Enforcement Agents can be sent to
your home to seize your personal belongings should you be unable to
set up a repayment plan.
There are three stages that Enforcement Agents follow:
- Compliance stage
A written request is sent to pay your outstanding council tax
and the compliance fees in full or to arrange a payment plan.
This written request is an official notice that an Enforcement
Agent will visit your property in seven days to take control of
goods if you do not respond.
A fee of £75 is added to your account balance at the compliance
stage. Every time a liability order is passed from us to an
Enforcement Agent a fee of £75 is charged to your account
- Enforcement stage
An Enforcement Agent visits your property and takes control of
your goods - if you do not contact them within 7 days to pay the
account in full or to arrange a payment plan.
If you arrange a payment plan, the Enforcement Agent may let the
goods stay in your property and you enter into a Controlled Goods
Agreement. This agreement means a list of all items is created.
Should you fail to honour the payment plan then items can be
If you do not pay in full or agree to a payment plan for the
outstanding balance of your account, an Enforcement Agent can seize
goods - up to the value of what is owed; this is known as Taking
Control of Goods. The value of the goods may not be as much as you
An enforcement fee of £235 is added to your account balance as
soon as an Enforcement Agent visits your property for the first
time. Should you owe more than £1500, 7.5% of the total amount
above £1500 along with the enforcement fee will be added to your
For multiple liability orders, only one enforcement stage fee is
- Sale or disposal stage
An Enforcement Agent attends your property to remove goods for
auction or prepare goods to be sold – if the sale takes place at
A fee of £110 is added to your account at the sale or disposal
stage, for multiple liability orders, only one enforcement stage
fee will be charged.
Should you owe more than £1500, 7.5% of the total amount above
£1500 along with the enforcement fee will be added to your account
In addition to the above fees Enforcement Agents may
also recover fees for associated costs that are reasonable such as
storage fees following removal of goods, locksmith’s fees and
Please note: Once your account is passed to an
Enforcement Agent your account balance and all fees must be paid to
the Enforcement Agent, not the council.
Should you miss an Enforcement Agent visit, their details will
be left and you should contact the Agent to make payment or arrange