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How we recover council tax debts

If you’ve received a summons and:

  • a payment plan has not been set-up by the court date, or
  • the full balance including summons cost, has not been paid by the court date

We will obtain a Liability Order which will give us the authority to recover the debt.

We will send you a letter to confirm the Liability Order has been obtained and to advise of the action we may take to the recover the debt. A financial statement will be enclosed with the letter which you will need to complete and return to us. When we have received the financial statement we will make arrangements with you to clear your debt based on your personal circumstances.

If you don't return the financial statement or cooperate with us we will use one of the following methods to recover the debt.

Enforcement Agents (bailiffs)

Your debt will be passed to Enforcement Agents to recover on our behalf. Once it has been handed to the Enforcement Agents you will need to discuss your debt with them directly.

We may consider taking the debt back from the Enforcement Agents if you provide proof that you are a vulnerable person. To submit proof please use the evidence form.

Enforcement Agents:

  • have the right to peaceful entry to your home
  • can't force entry unless they have a signed Control of Goods Agreement
  • have the power to remove certain goods to clear the debt, if you are not able to pay the debt in full
  • can't remove goods belonging to your landlord -  you will need to provide proof of ownership if you are a tenant

You can also view information on:

Attachment to earnings

An order may be sent to your employer to make deductions directly from your wages to pay your council tax. The amount deducted is a percentage set by Central Government and will depend on the amount you earn.

Attachment to benefits

If you get Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credits a request may be made to the Department for Work and Pensions to make a deduction from your council tax.

Bankruptcy and liquidation

Insolvency proceedings may begin under the Insolvency Act 1986 if you owe more than £750. Proceedings may be against an individual or a limited company.

Charging orders

If you owe £1000 or more in council tax and own a property the council can apply for an order to enforce the sale of the property to clear the amount owed.

Committal to prison

If your council tax remains outstanding after Enforcement Agents have tried to recover the debt, the council may apply to the Magistrates' Court for a warrant committing you to prison. If the court determines the outstanding debt is due to wilful refusal or culpable neglect, they may commit you to prison for a maximum of three months. The court may decide to postpone the period of imprisonment on certain conditions, normally relating to payment of the debt over a period of time.

Council tax collection and recovery policy

For further information on how we recover council tax debts view the council tax collection and recovery policy.