Recovering unpaid Council Tax
Contact us as soon as you realise you have a problem paying your Council Tax. You may be able to get a Council Tax discount or Council Tax Support.
Do not ignore the bill or any reminders about payment you may receive. If you do not pay the instalments due and fail to discuss the situation with us, we may take recovery action that could considerably increase the amount you have to pay.
Unpaid Council Tax bills
If you miss a Council Tax payment we will send you a reminder notice giving you 7 days to bring your Council Tax payments up-to-date. A maximum of 2 reminders are sent in any financial year.
If you do not do this within the time, or if after a second reminder you fall behind with your payments again, you will have to pay the full amount left for the rest of the year.
If you still do not pay or do not make an arrangement with us, an application is made to the Magistrate's court for a liability order. You will be sent a summons telling you when the court will consider the application and the amount we are seeking to recover. This will be both the outstanding amount of Council Tax plus the cost to the council of making the application. Please note that when the summons is issued you will incur costs amounting to £41, and further costs of £15.50 when the liability order is obtained. You have the right to attend the court and offer evidence as to why the order should not be made.
Even if you decide not to attend court, you should speak to us or, if you prefer, a local Citizens' Advice Bureau. We will try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment. If you make an arrangement and stick to it, you will avoid any further recovery costs.
When a liability order is granted by the Magistrates court we can demand certain information from you about your employment and earnings to help decide how to recover the debt. You are legally required to give us this information and we will advise you how it may help you pay the bill.
In more serious cases, where other ways to recover the debt have failed, we can:
- Arrange for payments to be made direct from wages, if the person is employed
- Arrange for payments to be made direct from benefits, if the person is on a low income
- Use enforcement agents to remove a person's possessions and sell them at auction
- Take the debtor to court
- Start insolvency proceedings
Enforcement agents (bailiffs)
When we ask enforcement agents to collect a debt on our behalf, the information about the case is sent to an external enforcement company. For each stage of action taken by the enforcement agents a specific fee is added to the debtor’s bill. The stages are:
- Stage 1 (Compliance) - £75 fee added to the debt
- Stage 2 (Enforcement) - £235 plus 7.5% on debts greater than £1500
- Stage 3 (Removal of goods) - £110 plus 7.5% on debts greater than £1500