We understand that some people genuinely struggle to pay their Council Tax and we will do all we can to help. Please contact us straight away if you're having difficulty paying and we'll do our best to help you.
We are always willing to listen, and once we know that there is a problem, there are a number of ways that we might be able to help:
- Set up a Direct Debit: If you’ve received a Reminder Notice this is a good opportunity to set up a Direct Debit with us. Setting up a Direct Debit to pay your Council Tax ensures your payments are made on time each month. Visit the payments page to download a form or call us during office hours to set up a Direct Debit.
- Spread your instalments over 12 months instead of 10: You have the option to ask us to spread your annual payments over 12 months instead of 10. If you wish to take up the option of 12 monthly instalments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Extra help for people on a low income: If you're on a low income, you might be entitled to some help towards paying your Council Tax. This type of support reduces the amount of Council Tax that you have to pay and is taken straight off your bill. Visit the Benefits section for more information.
- Council Tax discounts / reductions: We will ask you about your circumstances to see if you could claim a discount or reduction on the amount of Council Tax you have to pay. Visit the discounts and exemptions section for more information.
If you're struggling with your payments or other financial commitments, free and impartial advice is available through the following organisations:
Online budgeting tools to help you understand what you’re earning and spending, and where you might be able to cut costs:
If you can't find the answer to your query in the frequently asked questions below, or you need to talk to us about your Council Tax payments, please contact us as soon as possible.
- What should I do if I miss a payment?
- Why have I received a reminder?
- Why have I received / What is a Final Notice?
- Why have I received / What is a summons?
- What is a liability order?
- What does a liability order allow the Council to do?
If you've missed a payment you can pay this now using our online payments system.
Direct Debit is the easiest way to pay your Council Tax and the best payment method to avoid missing any future payments. To set up a Direct Debit; visit the payments page to download a form or call us during office hours.
If you're unable to make the payment you've missed, please contact us as soon as possible.
A Reminder Notice is issued when our records show that you have not made payment in line with the instalments set out on your Council Tax bill. You have 7 days to pay the amount due shown on the notice or you will lose your right to pay by instalments and be asked to pay the total remaining balance of your bill.
Please don’t ignore a Reminder Notice, because if we have to continue with recovery action against you, you may end up having to pay extra costs.
If you bring your account up to date within 7 days of a reminder being issued you can continue to pay by instalments. You can pay now using our online payments system.
As you've received a Reminder Notice, we would encourage you to take this opportunity to sign up to pay your future instalments by Direct Debit to avoid missing any future payments. To set up a Direct Debit; visit the payments page to download a form or call us during office hours.
We're only required by law to send individuals 2 Reminder Notices for late payment in one financial year (start of April to the end of March). If you fail to pay on time for a third time in the same year, you'll immediately lose your right to pay by instalments and a Final Notice will be issued for the total remaining balance of your bill for the year.
If you've received a Final Notice and wish to pay the full amount now, please use our online payments system.
If you're having difficulties paying your Council Tax, please contact us straight away as there are a number of ways that we might be able to help you.
If your account has not been brought up to date as requested after being sent either a First or Second Reminder or a Final Notice, and you haven’t contacted us to talk about it, we will apply to the Magistrates’ Court to issue you with a summons. Costs of £68.00 will be added to the balance of your account when the summons is issued.
A summons is a request for you to appear before the Magistrates’ Court. You will not need to appear if you contact us to pay in full or to agree a payment arrangement. If the hearing does go ahead, you don't need to attend unless you are disputing liability for the outstanding amount. The court will not consider your ability to pay the amount due, only whether you are liable to pay the Council Tax.
If you've received a summons you should contact us straight away to discuss your account. Or, if you wish to pay the full amount now, please use our online payments system.
At the court hearing we will ask the Magistrate to grant us a liability order. The court will grant a liability order if it is satisfied that you are liable for the Council Tax shown on the summons.
A liability order gives us the authority to take further action to collect the money you owe. Court costs of £12.00 will be added to the balance of your bill when a liability order has been granted.
The Council will write to you to notify you when a liability order has been granted. When you receive this it is important that you contact us immediately to avoid further action being taken against you.
A liability order granted by the Magistrates’ Court allows us to request personal financial information from you in order to decide how best to recover your unpaid Council Tax. This can include:-
Attachment of earnings
We can request that your employer make deductions from your wages or salary to pay towards the amount you owe. The deductions are set by law and are taken as a percentage of your net earnings. For each deduction your employer can take an extra £1 towards their administration costs.
Attachment of benefits
We can ask the Department for Work and Pensions to deduct an amount per week from your Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance and pay it to your Council Tax account.
Bailiffs / Enforcement Agents
Please note that 'Bailiffs' are now called 'Enforcement Agents' and the law has changed with regards to how they recover debts. Read Enforcement Agent Fees 2014 for more information.
If your debt is passed to an enforcement agent, costs are added to the amount you owe. If an enforcement agent contacts you, they will give you the opportunity to make an acceptable arrangement for payment. If you make an arrangement with the enforcement agent but then don’t make the agreed payments, the enforcement agent may visit your home and take your belongings.
If your account has been passed to an enforcement agent for collection, their contact details are as follows:
Bristow & Sutor Civil Enforcement Agents
Telephone: 0871 677 0070
Fax: 0871 677 0072
Opening hours for telephone enquiries: Mon - Fri 8.30am - 5.00pm (8.30am - 6.00pm for card payments)
DG Collection Services Ltd
Telephone: 0117 971 6005
If your total debt exceeds £750 the Council can apply to make you bankrupt. Please be aware that your home may be at risk if this action is taken.
If your debt is £1,000 or more and you own your home, we can apply to the court for a charging order. A charging order is a way of securing the debt against your property. If you sell your home, you will have to repay the debt first, before you are given any of the sale proceeds. Please be aware that your home may be at risk if this action is taken.
The Council can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for your committal to prison if the bailiff has been unable to collect the debt. If you don’t attend court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. The magistrates will assess your circumstances and ask why you haven’t paid. If they believe you should have paid, they may issue a committal warrant and you could go to prison for up to 90 days.