Council Tax recovery

Last Updated: 17 May 2023

The guidance below outlines the procedures we follow if a Council tax payment is missed or a late payment is made. If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax instalments please contact us to discuss your circumstances.

Payment instalments and arrears

Council Tax payments are due on the dates shown on your bill and must be made on or before that date to avoid receiving a reminder or a summons.

Block payments can be made, but must be paid in advance.

Missed or late instalment payments

If you are having difficulty paying, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible.

It may be that you should receive a Council Tax discount or apply for Council Tax Reduction.

Council Tax discounts

Council Tax Reduction scheme

If you do not pay your Council Tax instalments in full, on or before the due date, you will be sent a reminder.

If you get a reminder you must bring your account up to date within seven days. If you do not pay the reminder within seven days, the whole amount of your annual Council Tax charge will become due after a further seven days, and you will lose your right to pay by instalments.

This means that all of your Council Tax for the year becomes due immediately.

The law says you can only receive two reminders in respect of any one debt, providing you pay the first reminder within seven days from the date issue.

If, after making payment for a second reminder your payment is late again, you will receive a final notice. A final notice is for the whole annual Council Tax charge and you will have lost the right to pay by instalments. The whole Council Tax charge then has to be paid in full within seven days to avoid a summons being issued.

If there is any further delay you will be sent a court summons for the charge left for the whole year. Costs of £75 (after 1 April 2017) will be added immediately to your bill.

After receiving a summons

If you pay in full, including the costs, the court will be told you have paid and nothing more will happen.

If you are still in debt on the date of the hearing the case will go ahead, even in your absence.

In most cases the court will issue a liability order, which gives us permission to take formal recovery action.

Formal recovery action

Formal recovery action includes:

  • Attachment of benefit: taking money directly from your benefits
  • Attachment of earning: taking money directly from your wages. Attachment of Earnings: Guidance for employers
  • Enforcement agents (previously know as bailiffs) If necessary, enforcement agents will take possessions from you that are equal in value to the debt, together with any further costs.

This includes an immediate, non-negotiable fee of £75 plus a minimum of an additional minimal £235 if they visit you as detailed in The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 as detailed below:

Schedule of enforcement fees
Fee stage Fixed fee Percentage of sum to be recovered exceeding £1,500
Compliance stage £75 0%
Enforcement stage (visit) £235 7.5%
Sale or disposal £110 7.5%
  • Bankruptcy proceedings
  • Charging Order against your property. This could also include forced sale proceedings
  • Committal to prison proceedings

Payment arrangements

If you are struggling to keep up to date with your instalments, please contact us as soon as possible so we can make an arrangement with you, taking into account your personal circumstances.

Council Tax recovery procedures

Full details of the council's recovery procedures can be found at Council Tax and national non-domestic rates recovery procedures (PDF/63KB/5 pages)

Independent financial advice

You can seek free advice from:

Citizens Advice

National Debtline

Money Advice Service

Other free advice is available.