What happens if I do not pay?

Your annual council tax bill explains how much you have to pay and the date your payment is due. Your council tax is usually payable in ten monthly instalments on the first of each month, unless you pay by Direct Debit where you are allowed a choice of four payment dates in the month.

Each stage explained

If you do not pay an instalment when it is due, the following stages take place until payment is received.

First Reminder Notice

If the payment is not received within 10 days of the instalment falling due, a reminder notice will be issued. If you receive a reminder, you should make the requested payment immediately. If the payment is not received within seven days of the date of the reminder, you will lose your right to pay by instalments. If after a further seven days the total balance outstanding has not been paid, a summons will be issued.

Second Reminder Notice

If, after receiving and paying a first reminder notice your instalments once again fall into arrears:

  • you will be sent a second reminder notice
  • This will be the last reminder that you receive during the council tax year
  • If your instalments become overdue again (or you fail to pay with seven days) you will be sent a final notice and you will lose the right to pay by instalments up to 31 March of the current financial year.

Final Notice

If your instalments fall into arrears for a third time, we will issue a final notice, demanding the total balance outstanding for the remainder of the year. You will have lost your right to pay by instalments and must pay this amount within seven days to avoid being sent a summons.


If payments were not made as shown on either the reminder or final notice then an application will be made to the magistrates' court for a liability order. You will be sent a summons which will tell you how much money you owe and when the hearing will be. In addition, you will incur £90 costs for the issue of the summons. If the full amount is paid before your hearing date or if you agree a payment arrangement you will not need to attend court.

Liability Order

If you have not paid in full before the hearing we will apply to the magistrate's court for a Liability Order which will incur a further cost of £30.00. The Liability Order empowers us to take further recovery actions. We can also now request information with regards to your employment and earnings to assist us in deciding how we wish to recover the debt.

Deductions from earnings

If you are in work, we can order your employer to recover the amount direct from your wages or salary and pay it straight to the council. This will be a set percentage of your NET pay. Your employer may also charge you a £1 administration fee. If you do not provide employment details when requested you may incur a fine of £1000 and a possible criminal record.

Deductions from income support

If you are receiving income support or jobseekers allowance (income-based) the council may be able to apply for deductions from that benefit. However, if you are in receipt of either of these benefits, always check that you are in receipt of the correct amount of council tax benefit.

Enforcement Agents

We may ask a Enforcement Agents to try and collect the outstanding debt. Whilst they would prefer not to, they can take some of your belongings, e.g. motor vehicle, which can then be sold at public auction to pay off the debt. The costs to you can be quite considerable and will be added to your council tax debt. It is preferable therefore to try to agree a payment plan with us before matters reach this stage.

Charging order

We may apply to the court for a charging order on your house. This means that you cannot sell your house until the council tax has been paid.


We may apply to the High Court to declare you bankrupt. This means that your assets will be sold and you will be unable to obtain credit.

Committal to Prison

The magistrates may send you to prison for up to 3 months if he or she considers that you did not pay even though you had the money to do so.