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What happens if you do not pay your council tax

Council Tax is a priority debt. You must pay on time as per your Annual Demand Notice. If you fail to pay, we will take steps to recover the money due. You will also forfeit your right to instalments.

Pay your Council Tax.

Let us know if you're struggling to pay

If you're struggling to pay your Council Tax, please contact us on 01733 452651 to discuss before your account gets into arrears. This may help prevent additional charges accruing. We may be able to work out a more suitable payment plan for you.

If you are on low income, you may be entitled to assistance via our council tax support scheme. You can find details on our Housing Benefit and Council Tax support page.

You should also see if you're entitled to any discounts or exemptions by checking your eligibility on our council Tax forms, discounts and exemptions page.

Money advice and debt help

If you have debt problems or need help with your finances, visit our Here to Help - Cost of Living page. You can find a list of organisations and charities that can provide money advice and debt help.

Process and procedures for recovering Council Tax debt

Below is the process and procedures we use for recovering Council Tax debt.


If you receive a reminder, you have not paid your instalment on or before the day it is due.

If we don't receive the requested payment within seven days of the date of the reminder, you will lose your right to pay by instalments. The full amount becomes due within a further seven days. If the full amount remains unpaid, a summons will be issued for the entire year's bill without any further notice.

Second reminder

If you receive a second reminder, you have not paid another instalment within seven days on or before the day it is due.

If we don't receive the requested payment within seven days of the date of the reminder, after a further seven days you will forfeit your right to instalments. A summons will be issued for the entire year's bill without any further notice.

No further reminders will be issued throughout the Council Tax year.

Final notice

A final notice is sent when you have received and paid two reminders and have fallen into arrears for the third time. The final notice requires payment of the entire balance for the year.

If the entire year's balance is not paid within seven days, a summons will be issued.


A summons is a legal notice to start official debt recovery proceedings against you. Once a summons has been issued to you, if you wish to avoid the Council obtaining a Liability Order against you, you will need to pay your Council Tax in full, including the £65.50 court costs* fees for 2023.

If you are unable to make payment in full, please contact us on 01733 452651 to discuss. You do not need to attend the Magistrates Court. If you believe that you have a valid dispute to the Liability Order being made, please contact the council BEFORE the hearing on the telephone number detailed above. The following are not legal disputes against the issue of a liability order:

  • Cannot afford to pay
  • Have applied for Council Tax benefits
  • Have appealed to the Valuation Office against your Council Tax band
  • Have appealed against our decision to hold you liable

Once we have obtained a Liability Order and if the debt has not been paid in full or an arrangement been agreed, then we have the right to recover debt in any of the following ways:

  • Attachment of Earnings
  • Attachment of Benefits
  • Enforcement Agents
  • Bankruptcy
  • Changing Order and Order of Sale
  • Committal

Attachment of Earnings

An attachment of earnings order means we can order your employer to deduct the amount you owe from your wages and pay it directly to us. The amount of money we take depends on how much you earn after tax.

Attachment of Benefits

We can request the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make deductions from your benefits. The DWP will make direct payments to us until the amount on the liability order is fully paid.

Enforcement Agents

If a payment arrangement is not made or we do not hold employment or benefit details, your debt may be passed to an Enforcement Agent. The Enforcement Agents will issue a Notice of Enforcement to you giving you a set period of time to make contact. This carries a statutory fee of £75 which is added to the balance that the Enforcement Agent Team have been instructed to collect. To avoid escalating costs, we strongly recommend that you contact the Enforcement Agents as a matter of urgency to discuss a mutually acceptable resolution. If you ignore the notice of enforcement sent to you, an Enforcement Agent will attend your property to collect payment in full, set an arrangement or remove goods. This visit will add a further £235 (plus 7.5% of the sum being recovered which exceeds £1,500). *Fees for 2023


The Council can issue bankruptcy and liquidation against individuals and companies that owe debts of more than £5,000. This will commence by the Council issuing a Statutory Demand which gives you 21 days to pay in full.

Charging Order and Order of Sale

If you are a homeowner, it is possible that we will place a charging order against your property. This means that when your property is sold, the Council is paid back the money you owe before you receive the money from the sale. The Council can force sale on the property to collect the debt.


The Council can apply for you to be committed to prison for non-payment of Council Tax. Upon a finding of Wilful Refusal or Culpable Neglect, the Court can imprison you for up to three months for non-payment of a Council Tax debt. It is important to note that the Council Tax debt is not written off if a sentence is imposed.