Council Tax reminders and summons

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If you are finding it difficult to pay your Council Tax it is important that you let us know as soon as possible. The longer you ignore a debt problem, the worse the situation will become.

If you miss a Council Tax instalment payment you will receive a reminder notice. Although the Council Tax Regulations only allow you seven days to bring your instalments up to date, the Council allows you fourteen days. If you don't pay within this time, or if after a second reminder you fall behind with your payments again, you will be asked to pay the full outstanding balance of your Council Tax bill. If you don't pay the full balance, we may start legal action to recover the money.

You can find out more about Council Tax arrears on the GOV.UK website.

If you cannot find the answer to your query, please call the Recovery team on 01473 433955.

You can make your payment now by using our secure Online Payments system - simply click on the button below:

Access online payments

Alternatively, call our Telephone Payments line on 01473 937866 (available 24 hours a day).

You can also set up a Direct Debit online:

Set up a Direct Debit

If you have received a summons you can request a special payment arrangement

Make a special payment arrangement

Council Tax Reminders - Frequently Asked Questions

Why have I been sent a reminder notice?

You have not paid your instalment(s) in full as shown on your Council Tax bill. Payments are due on the date stated on the bill and we can send a reminder any time after this date.

Please note that due to the number of reminders we send we cannot check each one individually so you should ensure you pay by the due date.

What happens if I don't pay?

If you don't pay the amount shown on the Reminder we will send you a summons to appear in the Magistrates Court for non payment.

The instalments shown on your bill are cancelled and you have to pay the full amount of council tax for the year. We also add £47 court costs. (These costs are applicable from 1 October 2015.)

Once you are issued with a summons the only way to stop your case going to the Magistrates Court is to pay the balance for the year in full including the £47 costs.

On the court date we apply for a Liability Order. This is a Court Order that allows us to take further action to recover the money you owe including taking deductions from your wages or benefits or using Enforcement Agents.

Why do I have to pay now?

Council Tax law allows you to pay your Council Tax over monthly instalments and allows us to take action if you do not pay when the instalments are due.

What if I have trouble paying the bill?

If you are on a low income and have less than £16,000 in savings you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction (the £16,000 limit may not apply to some people of Pension age). See our Council Tax Reduction page for more information.

Do not ignore your bill. If you do not pay your instalments we will take further recovery action.

There are independent advice agencies you can contact that may be able to help. See our debt advice page for more information.

Make paying easier - pay by Direct Debit

It's easy to pay by Direct Debit and it means you will never miss a payment again. You only set up your Direct Debit once and in future your payments will be automatically adjusted for your new bills.

Your Direct Debit is fully covered by the Direct Debit guarantee meaning you can cancel it at any time and are guaranteed a refund if a mistake is made.

Instead of having to pay on the 1st of each month you can choose between the 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd.

You can set up a Direct Debit by completing an online instruction or by calling us using the Contact Details shown.

Set up a Direct Debit

I am not paying as I am unhappy with council services

You can't stop paying Council Tax and you need to bring your account up to date. However please contact us to tell us what is wrong, so that we can put it right. Simply click on the button below:

Contact us now

My details have changed

You should still pay the amount shown on your Reminder but we will refund any overpayment or transfer it to any new Council Tax account.

Please complete the online form or contact us by telephone, with the details of your change as soon as possible. We will normally update your account within 10 days. If you are moving to another area please tell us so we can work out your final balance.

I am waiting to hear about Council Tax Reduction

You still need to pay until your application is completed. It may be we need extra information from you. If you wish to find out how your application is progressing please contact us.

I thought I was paying by Direct Debit

Please check your last bill as this shows how you pay. You should also check your bank statements to check payments have been taken.

You can set up a Direct Debit by completing an online instruction or by contacting us using the Contact Details shown.

Set up you Direct Debit

I have received a reminder, but I don't get paid until the end of the month

Payment is due within fourteen days of issue to prevent further recovery action - see FAQ What happens if I don't pay?

Don't forget you can set up a Direct Debit for the 1st, 8th, 15th, and the 22nd of the month. 

Can I set up an arrangement on a reminder?

We are unable to make an arrangement on a reminder. Payment is due within fourteen days of issue to prevent further recovery action - see FAQ What happens if I don't pay?

If you want to pay at a different date in the month then you should set up a Direct Debit.

Can I pay with a post-dated cheque?

We do not accept post-dated cheques. Payment is due within fourteen days of issue to prevent further recovery action.

Council Tax Summons - Frequently Asked Questions

Why have I received a summons?

You have been summoned to attend Court because the Council Tax due from you has not been paid. We have not received the amount on your bill and reminder letter(s). This is a serious matter, which must be dealt with.

What if I pay now?

As soon as we receive full payment of the outstanding amount, including the costs, proceedings will be stopped.

What if I cannot pay in full now?

Contact us to discuss a payment plan on 01473 433955. Our main concern is to collect the debt as quickly and efficiently as possible. If an instalment arrangement is the best way of achieving this, that option will be offered. If we can reach agreement, it will not be necessary to attend the Court hearing. The matter will still go to Court, but no action will be taken on the Liability Order issued whilst you make the payments promised. (The costs incurred will remain payable, but these will be included in the arrangement).

Do I have to attend Court?

No, unless you dispute the sum shown on your summons, it is not necessary for you to attend the Hearing. You have a legal right if you wish to do so but the court will not consider any proposals for payment. The purpose of the Hearing is to consider the actual liability for payment of the council tax and not the ability to pay. If you do attend the Hearing, please bring the summons with you.

What happens at Court?

The Court's role is to decide whether the correct procedure has been followed when requesting payment from you and must be satisfied that:

  1. The Council Tax has been fixed by the Council;
  2. A bill for payment has been issued;
  3. A reminder or final notice has been issued;
  4. The summons has been correctly issued and served;
  5. The amount due has not been paid.

If the Court accept that the correct procedure has been followed a Liability Order will be issued, which will mean additional costs will be added to your balance. If you choose to attend, you will have the option to discuss the matter with our representative. You will also have the opportunity to present your case to the Magistrates. There are certain matters, which will not be considered by the Magistrates. These are covered in the following FAQ.

Will my financial circumstances or any other grievances be taken into account?

No, the Court is only concerned with establishing that the correct process of advising you of your liability has been followed and that you have not paid. Associated matters such as your financial position, an unresolved dispute with the Valuation Officer, a pending application for Council Tax Reduction or a dispute with another department of the Council however important they seem to you, have no bearing upon the proceedings.

Specific procedures allow these matters to be resolved independently of the Court. In exceptional circumstances, we may consider a different approach but this is very much based upon the merits of a case. It is therefore, important that you discuss any point of concern with us before the Court Date.

What happens if the Court grants a Liability Order?

If the court grants a liability order, the Council can demand certain information from you about your employment and earnings to help them decide how to recover the debt. You are legally required to give the council this information and it may help you pay the bill. The main methods of recovery are:

1. Attachment of earnings orders

We can order your employer to recover the amount direct from your wages or salary and pay it straight to us.  The amount will be a set proportion of your pay after certain other deductions (such as income tax and national insurance). Your employer may also deduct a further £1 towards their costs in making each deduction and sending it to us. More information is available to download below:

2. Deductions from Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit

If you are receiving one of the above payments, we may be able to apply for deductions from your benefit.

3. Enforcement Agents (previously known as Bailiffs)

The Council can instruct an Enforcement Agent to collect the debt by removing and selling some of your possessions. This will result in you having to pay additional fees, which have been set by legislation:

  • Fee at 'Compliance' stage £75 (a written notice will be sent by the Enforcement Agent)
  • Fee at 'Enforcement' stage £235 ( plus percentage fee 7.5% on excess of debts over £1,500)
  • Fee at 'Sale' stage £110 (plus percentage fee 7.5% on excess of debts over £1,500)

(The above fees have been set by Central Government and became law on 6 April 2014)

Other options for enforcement action include bankruptcy proceedings, and, for a debt of £1000 or more, a charging order whereby the authority may apply to a county court for a charge on the debtor's property.

Information will be required from you if we exercise some of these options. If requested, it must be supplied. If not, you will be summoned to appear at Court. Failure to supply information is a criminal offence and a fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed.

What happens if payment is still not made?

We may apply to the magistrates' court for a warrant committing you to prison. We will only take this step when other efforts have failed and when Enforcement Agents have been unsuccessful.

Before issuing a warrant of commitment the court must hold a means inquiry with you present.  A warrant will only be issued if the court is satisfied that the failure to pay is the result of willful refusal or culpable neglect.  The maximum period of imprisonment is three months. The court may decide to fix a term of imprisonment and suspend the warrant on certain conditions, normally relating to payment of the debt over a period of time.

Debt Advice

See our debt advice page about who you can contact to get independent advice about debts.