info Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Council Tax

Recovery procedures

We’re currently making changes to how we recover arrears. In the meantime we’ve suspended issuing reminders, final notices and court summonses. If you have arrears due up to 31 March 2020 our enforcement agents (bailiffs) are now on hold and will not be in contact with you.

You should continue to pay your 2020 to 2021 instalments and keep any pre-existing payment arrangements, such as direct debits.

Government hardship fund

The government has just announced a hardship fund.

You may be eligible if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • you are unable to pay your Council Tax
  • you are of working age
  • you are currently receiving Council Tax Reduction (this will be detailed on your bill)

We are waiting for both full details of the fund from the Government and our software provider to change our system. Once these are resolved we’ll automatically award an amount of up to £150 against your account.

Find out about free debt advice.

View the coronavirus pages to keep up to date with all closures and cancellations.

If you’re having trouble paying your Council Tax and are on a low income you may be eligible for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

Apply for the Council Tax Reduction

We may also be able to offer you an alternative repayment scheme, to discuss this email us on or phone 01634 332 222.

If you can’t pay, contact us as soon as possible or further action will be taken to recover what is owed.

To avoid further action set up a direct debit or pay online.

If you're struggling to pay your bills, you can also view our debt advice.

If you do not pay

Once you have your reminder letter we'll give you 10 days to pay this and you’ll need to continue to pay the instalments shown on your bill.

If you don’t pay the rest of your instalments

If you don't pay the rest of your instalments the plan will be cancelled, the full year’s council tax will be due and you’ll be sent a final notice.

If you pay what's due but fall behind again

If you fall behind again after paying what is due on the reminder we’ll send a second reminder notice.

If you fall behind a third time

If you fall behind your instalments a third time, your instalment plan will be cancelled, the full year’s council tax will be due and you’ll be sent a final notice.

You will then have 14 days to pay the balance shown to prevent the Magistrates Court issuing a summons.

You’ll be sent a court summons if you don’t pay your final notice within 14 days, this requires you to pay the full balance you owe, including costs.

If more than one person is named on the bill, a summons will be issued to each person but you will only be charged one set of costs.

We won’t discuss your ability to pay or a repayment arrangement until a court order has been granted. You should only attend court if you have a legal defence against the court issuing the liability order.

These may include:

  • the property is not entered in the correct valuation list
  • the Council Tax hasn’t been set properly
  • the Council Tax hasn’t been billed lawfully
  • the amount demanded has been paid in full (including summons costs)
  • more than six years have passed since the balance became due
  • bankruptcy proceedings have been started

To prevent us applying for a liability order you must pay in full, including the summons costs before the court hearing.

A summons issued by the Magistrates Court won’t affect your credit rating.

If you have been sent a court summons and you haven't paid the full amount including the summons before the court hearing, we will have to use other methods to recover the money owed.

A liability order gives the council additional powers to recover council tax which include:

  • obtaining information about your employment, benefits or earnings
  • using enforcement agents (bailiffs)
  • making deductions from your earnings or certain benefits
  • applying for a charging order at the county court
  • taking bankruptcy action

You should:

  • pay what you can before the court date
  • complete a personal information form with your repayment offer
  • pay the amounts stated in your offer while you are waiting for us to contact you

If your offer isn’t accepted we may ask you to complete an income and expenditure form. For further information or we may issue an attachment of earnings order, pass the liability order to enforcement agents (bailiffs) or make deductions from your benefit.

Recovering owed Council Tax

If a liability order has been issued, we may recover the Council Tax owed through an Attachment of Earnings Order, Attachment of Benefits Order or by using enforcement agents (bailiffs).

This will be issued if you get one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

This order means that £3.70 will be taken from each payment you get.

This order will be sent to your employer requiring them to take money from your wage and send it to the council to cover your Council Tax.

They may also take an extra £1 for each deduction to cover administration costs.

The amount taken will be a percentage of your net pay (your wage after taxes and deductions have been taken) and details of this will be sent to you with the attachment of earnings order.

View our attachment of earnings guidance notes

View our attachment of earnings table

We may send a bailiff to collect outstanding Council Tax from you if a liability order has been issued.

This may be done if you haven’t made or kept to an agreed repayment plan or haven’t completed and returned the personal information form sent to you.

If an Enforcement Agent is instructed to collect the debt:

  • we’ll send you a letter by post if your debt is passed on to an Enforcement Agent
  • a fixed fee of £75 will be due on issuing you a letter by post
  • any payments or offers or repayment should be made to the agents
  • a fixed fee of £235 will be charged if they visit you and 7.5% for any balance due over £1500

An Enforcement Agent will normally ask you for payment in full. However, if you can’t pay, they may enter into a Controlled Goods Agreement, where they make a list of your possessions that is equal to your debt. If you don’t pay as agreed, the agent may enter your property and take the listed items and charge you for their removal and sale.

If they believe that your possessions won’t cover the debt, we’ll consider other recovery options such as committal action, bankruptcy, imprisonment or a charging order against your property.