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Recovery and enforcement
Council tax is a priority debt. Failure to pay will result in recovery action being taken against you if you are liable or held to be jointly and severally liable with another party.
Every council tax payer is sent a demand notice at the beginning of the financial year (normally somewhere between the middle to last week of March). Each council tax payer with a liability has the right to pay this by monthly instalments. If the instalments are not paid, councils can pursue recovery for the arrears.
To avoid the recovery process (outlined below) your council tax must be paid, in advance, by the 1st of each month. For alternative payment dates, you must pay via direct debit.
If you have problems paying your bill, please contact council tax team on 01277 312 500 as soon as possible.
If you do not pay your bill on time we will send you a council tax reminder notice, including details of the amount you need to pay to bring your instalments up to date.
As long as you bring your account up to date within seven days of the date of the notice and pay future instalments on or before the due date, no further action will be taken against you. To avoid further action, you should set up a direct debit.
If all of your instalments have become due a Final Notice can be issued straight away without the need for a Reminder Notice.
If all of your instalments have become due; or if payment is brought up to date after we have sent you a Second and Final Reminder Notice but you miss a further instalment, we will issue you a Final Notice.
The notice will advise you that you have now lost the right to pay the years charge by instalments and full payment of the balance is due.
To avoid further action you must pay the balance for the whole year within seven days. If only a partial payment is received, we will proceed to summons stage.
You can set up a council tax special payment arrangement now by completing the online form below (only to be completed if you have received a Final Notice to pay your council tax):
If you do not pay the full council tax balance within seven days of receiving one of the above notices, we will issue a court summons for non-payment of council tax, incurring extra costs.
Your attendance at court is not required. You should discuss payment arrangements prior to the court hearing, although to protect the interests of the taxpayer, if full payment is not agreed a liability order will still be sought.
To avoid further action - you must pay the full balance and the summons costs.
You can set up a council tax special payment arrangement now by completing the online form below (only to be completed if you have received a court summons for non-payment of council tax):
If the court decides that you are liable to pay the amount that is shown on the court summons, and you have not paid the full amount outstanding, it will grant a Liability Order. A Liability Order gives the Council enforcement powers to recover the Council tax costs owed by other means including:
- deduction from your earnings
- deduction from your benefits
- referral to an enforcement agent
- committal to prison
- criminal proceedings
If the balance and the summons cost remain unpaid on the day of the Liability Order Court Hearing, the Council will apply for additional costs.
Instalments may be agreed at this stage, subject to agreement with the Council's recovery officers. There is no right to a special arrangement and you remain liable for the full charge for the balance of the year as well as any other arrears and our costs. To avoid these costs and fees again, discuss setting up a direct debit with a recovery officer when you make your payment arrangement.
Deductions from your earnings or benefit
Once a Liability Order has been granted, if you are employed we can issue an Attachment of Earnings Order. This means that we will ask your employer to make deductions from your salary and pay them directly to us until you have repaid what you owe.
If you receive certain benefits we can apply to the Department for Works and Pensions to request that deductions are made from your benefit and paid directly to us until your debt is repaid.
If you are an employer and you have been sent an Attachment of Earning Order, please see the Attachment of Earnings – Advice for Employers for information on how to comply with the order.
If you or your company owes more than £750 in council tax or business rates and a liability order has been ordered against you, we may start bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings.
If we take this action, we will send you a statutory demand, which will give you 21 days to pay the full amount.
If you receive a statutory demand you should contact us immediately. If you do not settle the statutory demand, we will present a petition for bankruptcy or liquidation at court.
If you do not settle the demand, we will present a petition for bankruptcy. If we issue a bankruptcy order against you, the Official Receiver will investigate your financial affairs, your bank accounts will be frozen, your credit rating will be affected and you could be forced to sell your home to pay your debts.
In many fields of employment bankruptcy may effectively terminate your career.
Your account may be passed to the Council’s enforcement agent for collection if you have not paid the debt in full or you have not adhered to an agreed repayment plan. This action will incur additional costs. Typically, this will add an immediate £75 compliance fee. A further enforcement fee of £235 (plus 7.5% of any value above £1,500) will be applied if you still do not pay. If a sale of goods is enforced, a sales fee of £110 (plus 7.5% of any value above £1,500) will be applied once goods are sold.
Where more than £1,000 is outstanding under liability order(s) and the council taxpayer has a legal interest in the property, the Council may apply to the County Court for a charging order on the property.
The effect of a charging order is that if the property or other legal interest is sold the amount of the charging order is paid out of the proceeds. If you pay off the amount you owe under the charging order, the order will then be discharged. The amount you have to pay will include court fees and Costs that have been added to the debt. Interest on the amount is payable, subject to the order of the Court.
Committal to prison
As a last resort, we will apply to the Magistrates' Court for a Committal Summons. This is the first stage towards going to prison for non payment of council tax.
If you receive a committal summons, you should contact the recovery section of the Council, you are strongly advised to seek legal advice from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Service.
If you pay in full you do not need to go to court. If you do not pay in full, you must go to court at the time and date shown. If you fail to turn up at court the magistrates will issue a warrant for your arrest.
This procedure incurs significant additional costs to cover the Committal Summons (£305.00) and the Warrant of Arrest (£145.00).