Council tax enforcement
If you don't pay your council tax we are required by law to recover the debt. If you are suffering financial difficulty, help and advice is available from local and national organisations. For more information see Universal Credit and financial assistance.
Reminder and final notices
The stages of recovering council tax are:
We will send a reminder notice if you miss an instalment, requesting you bring your account up to date within seven days. If you pay part of the outstanding amount we will not stop further recovery action.
Second reminder notice
We will send a reminder notice if you miss a second instalment, requesting you bring your account up to date within seven days. If you pay part of the outstanding amount we will not stop further recovery action. If future instalments are missed no further reminder notice will be issued.
If you fail to bring your account up to date within the seven days or miss a further payment in the same financial year we will send you a final notice. If you do not pay the full balance on your account we can take court action to recover the debt.
Court action and Liability Orders
If court action is required each liable person on your account will receive a summons at least 14 days before the court hearing. The cost of a summons is currently £70.
- pay the full the amount and the costs on the summons before the court hearing, no further action will be taken and proceedings will be withdrawn
- can't pay the full amount immediately, you can contact us to arrange payment on the basis that the application for a Liability Order and additional costs will still carry on. In these cases we will not take any further action if you continue to pay
If a Liability Order is approved, the main ways we can recover the debt are:
Attachment of earnings and benefits
If you are working, we can instruct your employer to deduct the debt from your net earnings. The amount we are able to deduct is set by legislation.
If you are claiming any of the following benefits:
- Income support (IS)
- Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Employment and support allowance
- Pension Credits
- Universal Credit
We can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions to deduct the debt from your benefits.
Civil enforcement agents
- We can instruct civil enforcement agents to take control of goods so that we can recover council tax debt. This will add further costs onto the existing debt
- If you pay in full after the civil enforcement agents have been sent but before your goods are sold you should be able to collect your goods
- For debt over £5,000 we can apply to bankrupt an individual
- If the insolvency action is successful the debts outstanding are frozen at the date of the court hearing. Once you have been declared bankrupt no further recovery action can be taken against the debt
- Normal council tax charges will still apply after bankruptcy and if any new debts aren't paid then recovery action will be taken
- If the debt is more than £1,000 we can apply for a Charging Order
- A Charging Order can be applied for if you are the owner or part-owner of a property
- The Charging Order means that once the property is sold and any mortgage paid off, the council tax debt can be claimed from remaining equity. We may be able to insist on the sale of the property.
Even when we take action to enforce payment of the debt, we will still try to help you if we think that there are some benefits you can claim.