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How Council Tax debts are recovered


Reminder notice

Final notice

Summons and court orders

Liability Order

This page explains action we may take if you do not pay your Council Tax and gives information if you are having trouble doing so.


If you receive a bill at the start of the financial year you will be given 10 instalments. If your bill is issued during the year the number of instalments will be reduced.

If payment is not made within seven days of the instalment date, we can start recovery proceedings.

Can't pay your Council Tax? See problems paying.

Reminder notice

If you do not pay the instalments that are due you will be sent a reminder asking you to bring your payments up to date within seven days. The full year's charge will be due if the payments are not brought up to date.

A maximum of two reminder notices are issued within each financial year.

Final notice

If another instalment is missed after the issue of a second reminder notice, a final notice is issued for the full amount of Council Tax for the year. You will not be able to pay in monthly instalments.

Unless the whole amount due is paid within seven days, a summons will be issued and extra costs added. It may still be possible to reinstate payment by instalments if the overdue amount is paid and you agree to pay the remaining instalments by Direct Debit.

Summons and court orders

We will apply for a court order called a Liability Order against anyone who fails to pay following a reminder. You will be summonsed to appear at the Magistrates' Court to explain why you have not paid and you will have to pay at least £70 costs.

If payment is made in full before the court date, including the costs, the summons will be withdrawn.

Reasons such as financial hardship, documents not being received and discount, exemption or Council Tax Reduction entitlement disputes, cannot be raised as a defence and do not prevent a Liability Order being granted.

You do not have to attend the court hearing but you do have a right to appear, however, you should only appear if you have a legal defence, such as:

  • the amount demanded has been paid,
  • the Council has not correctly set the level of Council Tax, or
  • insolvency proceedings have begun.

Liability Order

If you are unable to pay the balance in full prior to the court hearing date, you should contact us to discuss payment options. We will still apply for a Liability Order even if a suitable payment arrangement is agreed.

A Liability Order enables us to enforce payment using the following methods:

  • Order your employer to make deductions from your wages.
  • Instruct an enforcement agency to seize and sell your belongings.
  • Ask the Department of Work and Pensions to make deductions from your benefit.
  • Register a charging order against your property.
  • Apply to the County Court to make you bankrupt.
  • Apply to the Magistrates' Court for you to be sent to prison.

You will be asked to provide information about your employment and income. Failure to supply this information is a criminal offence and the council may prosecute you in the Magistrates' Court.

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