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Council Tax:
arrears and debt recovery

  • Council tax and benefits

If you’re struggling to pay your Council Tax, contact us as soon as possible as we may be able to spread your payments out over a longer time.  You may also quality for a discount or exemption on your Council Tax Bill.

Only agree to payments you can manage!

If you don’t pay

We’ll send a reminder to pay what you owe.

If you still don’t pay, we’ll issue you with a summons, which is a demand for you pay what you owe which now includes costs.

Liability Order

If you don’t pay within the time given, we’ll proceed to court and ask the Magistrate to grant a Liability Order. The court will make a Liability Order if it is satisfied that you owe the Council Tax shown on the summons. It gives us the authority to take action and collect the money you owe including costs

Even if you decide not to attend court, you should speak to us or, if you prefer, your local Citizens Advice

We’ll try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment, but we can’t do that unless you contact us.

If you ignore the Liability Order

If you can’t agree to a payment arrangement (or if you make arrangements to pay but don’t), we will take further action to get the money you owe.

Deductions from wages

We can order your employer to deduct a regular amount from your wages toward your unpaid Council Tax. If this means you’re struggling to pay your bills, talk to us as we may be willing to accept smaller payments.

Deductions from benefits

We can apply to have money deducted from your benefits, like Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA), Income Support, Pension Credit (Guaranteed Credit), Employment Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Universal Credit.

Bailiffs

They’re also called enforcement agents and any paperwork you receive from a bailiff will use this term.

We’ll send bailiffs to your home to collect the money you owe or goods to the value of the money you owe.

Once we pass your debt to a bailiff there will be additional costs to you from them!

This is how it works:

  1. The bailiff will send you a letter seven days before they intend to visit your home. At this stage you can contact them and arrange to make re-payments (this maybe the last chance you get to do this)
  2. If they don’t hear from you they will visit you home. At this stage there are two possible outcomes:
  3. They’ll seize your goods to cover the cost of the money you owe plus their costs
  4. You make cash payment and commit to a re-payment plan.
  5.  If you don’t make the agreed re-payments, they will return to your home and seize your goods.

Charging order and order of sale

We can place a charging order to secure the debt against your home or any property you own. If you fail to make re-payments as agreed, we can apply to the court for an order of sale to force your home and property to be sold.

Bankruptcy action

We can make you bankrupt, if you do not pay the money you owe.

Prison

You could go to prison for not paying your Council Tax.

If the bailiff has been unable to remove enough goods to pay for your debt, or if we think other recovery options are inappropriate, we can ask the Magistrates’ Court to send you a summons to attend a committal hearing.

This means that we ask the court to decide whether you should go to prison for not paying your Council Tax.

At the hearing, our representative will tell the Magistrates that a Liability Order has been granted and give a history of your debt.

The Magistrates will then ask you why you have not paid your Council Tax bill and will decide whether you have deliberately refused to pay. This is known as ‘wilful refusal’ or ‘culpable neglect’.

You will be asked questions about your income and expenditure. This is called a ‘means enquiry’. It helps the court decide whether you are able to pay and if so, what you could afford to pay. If they decide that you have been financially able to pay your Council Tax, but failed to do so, then you may be found in ‘culpable neglect.’

If the court does decide this, it can make these orders against you:

Send you to prison for a period of not more than three months

  • Send you to prison for a period of not more than three months but postpone this on condition that you make a payment or regular payments
  • Refuse to send you to prison
  • Write off all or part of the arrears

If you have not paid the total sum due to before the date of the hearing and you fail to appear before the court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

The longer you ignore a debt problem, the worse the situation becomes.

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