Council Tax recovery
You must either:
- pay your Council Tax in full at the start of the financial year
- by instalments
If you choose to pay by instalments and fall behind with your payment we will send you a reminder. This will give you seven days to pay. If you fail to make payment within the seven days you will lose the right to pay by instalments and you will have to pay the full amount on your account immediately.
If you don’t pay your Council Tax we can issue you with a court summons.
A court summons is a letter telling you that we are taking your case to court due to non-payment of Council Tax. We will ask the magistrate’s court for a liability order. This is a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe plus £100 costs.
If you do not follow the repayment plan detailed on the back of your summons letter or work with the us to make an alternative payment arrangement we will take you to court.
You have the right to attend the court hearting and offer evidence of why you aren’t liable for the debt, but are not obliged to do so.
You may decide to attend the court hearing if you have a valid defence which will stop a liability order being granted. Valid defences include:
- we have not followed the rules when asking for payment, for example not keeping to the correct time periods when sending bills or reminders
- you have paid what you owe
- you are not the person named on the summons
If you don’t have a valid defence the court will grant a liability order.
If a court has granted a liability order and you have not stuck to your payment plan or made an alternative arrangement with us to pay, we will write to you shortly after the court hearing for you to make a reasonable arrangement with us for payment.
If you respond to our letter with an offer of payment, do not wait to hear from us before starting to make payments.
After 14 days have passed without any offer of an arrangement, we can take enforcement action to recover the debt.
Enforcement action can be:
- deductions from your wages or benefits
- referral of your liability order debt to enforcement agents
- bankruptcy or charging orders
We can order your employer to deduct a regular amount from your wages towards your unpaid Council Tax. This is called an Attachment of Earnings Order.
The tables below show the percentages deducted. These are set by government.
If you are paid weekly
|Net earnings||Deduction rate|
|below £75||no deduction can be made|
|£75 to £135||3%|
|£135 to £185||5%|
|£185 to £225||7%|
|£225 to £355||12%|
|£355 to £505||17%|
|above £505||17% for the first £505 and 50% for the remainder|
If you are paid monthly
|Net earnings||Deduction rate|
|below £300||no deduction can be made|
|£300 to £550||3%|
|£550 to £740||5%|
|£740 to £900||7%|
|£900 to £1,420||12%|
|£1,420 to £2,020||17%|
|above £2,020||17% for the first £2,020 and 50% for the remainder|
Deductions from benefits
We can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions to make deductions from the following benefits:
- Jobseekers' Allowance
- Income Support
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
The deduction will be paid over to us until the debt is cleared.
We can pass your debt to accredited enforcement agents (previously known as bailiffs) who can come to your home and seize property to raise money towards paying your Council Tax debt and our recovery costs.
You can contact the enforcement agent and offer to come to a repayment agreement. Do this straight away because the enforcement agent fees (initially £75) will be added to your bill. If they have to visit you in person, you will incur a minimum of £235 in additional costs.
The enforcement agent fees are fixed by law under the The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.
Any enforcement agency acting on our behalf should behave professionally, follow set procedures (including having an internal complaints procedure), and not take inappropriate action.
If we have been granted a liability order and your Council Tax still isn't paid in full, we may, in certain circumstances, start bankruptcy proceedings against you.
We will firstly issue a statutory demand, giving you 21 days to pay the amount due in full. If you do not pay the amount in full within 21 days, or take no further action , then we will apply to the County Court for a bankruptcy order. If such an order is made against you, the official receiver will take control of your financial affairs for the next three years.
You will also be liable for the substantial legal fees and disbursements incurred in this process.
Charging order proceedings
If we have been granted a liability order and your Council Tax still isn't paid in full, we may, in certain circumstances, apply to the County Court for a charging order.
This will place a secured charge on your property leading, in some cases, to the forced sale of your property to pay the outstanding Council Tax.
You will also be liable for the legal fees and disbursements incurred in this process.
If we have tried using enforcement agents but your Council Tax still isn't paid in full, we may apply to the magistrates' court for your committal to prison.
We will only take this step when other efforts have failed.
If we choose to make such an application the court will hold a 'means enquiry' with you present. The court may then make an order sentencing you to imprisonment if it is satisfied you have not paid because:
- you have demonstrated ‘wilful refusal’ (that is, you have deliberately refused to pay)
- you have demonstrated ‘culpable neglect’ (that is if your failure to pay is blameworthy)
- you have the means on the day of the hearing to pay the debt.
The maximum period of imprisonment is three months however the court also has the power to suspend imprisonment on certain conditions (for example, paying off the debt in instalments or over a specified period of time).
If you have any queries about this or need to discuss your account, please contact us.
Last updated 07 September 2022