Struggling to pay

Council tax - struggling to pay

If you are struggling to pay please contact us as we may be able to offer you a special payment arrangement.  We can also check that you have all the discounts you are entitled to.

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to Council Tax Support and you will need to complete an application form.

What happens if I don't pay?

We don't want you to get behind with your payments so we will send you a reminder if a payment is late.  If you don't pay within 7 days of getting the reminder you could lose the right to pay by instalments.

Should I wait for reminders?

No. You could lose the right to pay by instalments.  If we have sent you two reminders for late payment and any of your future payments are late, you will have to pay the rest of the year's council tax immediately.

What happens next?

Fourteen days after sending you a reminder, legal action can start. We will apply to the Magistrate Court for a summons to be issued. You will be notified of the date and time of the hearing together with the costs of taking this action.

If you pay the amount due, shown on the summons, before the day of the Hearing, no further action will be taken.

If you do not pay, the Magistrates must issue a Liability Order.

What is a liability order?

A liability order gives the council powers to collect the debt in various ways.

At this stage, we may still agree a special payment with you rather than use the liability order. If you break the arrangement, we will take further action.

With a liability order we can:-

Make an attachment of earnings order. We will require certain information to be provided.  You are legally required to provide this information.  It will include your work details.  We will instruct your employer to take money from your earnings to pay your council tax arrears.

Make deductions from Income Support, ESA, GPC or JSA. Money can be taken from your Income Support or income-based Job Seekers Allowance.

Make a Charging Order.  If you owe us more than £1000 and you own your own home, a charge can be placed on your property.

Employ Enforcement Agents to collect the debt. The charges involved are set out in legislation. They can be considerable and you will be liable to pay them. The Enforcement Agents will ask our advice if they find the liability order has been issued against someone who cannot pay due to their vulnerability.

Take committal proceedings. You can be committed to prison if you refuse or neglect to pay your council tax. The Magistrates will examine how the debt arose and, if they consider you have refused or neglected to pay, they will impose a prison sentence. You have the right to seek legal assistance for this hearing and you may be entitled to Legal Aid. The Magistrates may suspend a prison sentence pending payments being made under an arrangement. This can lead to further court costs being awarded against you.

Where can I get advice and help?

Contact us at East Northamptonshire Council..

Please take a look at our Struggling to pay webpage.

You can also contact Community Law Service, call them on 01604 621038 or 01933 313020.

There is no need to spend thousands of pounds in debt management fees when StepChange Debt Charity provide debt advice, help with bailiffs and CCJs and general debt management free of charge. To find out more, in complete confidence, try their 60m second debt test.

More information

  1. Council tax - struggling to pay (you are here)
  2. Where to find help if you're struggling to pay