If you’re struggling to pay your Council Tax, contact your council as soon as possible.

Your council may be able to spread your payments out over a longer time. Only agree to payments you can manage. You may also qualify for Council Tax Reduction.

If you still don’t pay

If you can’t come to a payment arrangement (or if you make arrangements to pay but don’t), your council can ask the Magistrates’ Court for a ‘Liability Order’. This is a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe, plus costs.

You have the right to attend the court and say why you think you shouldn’t have to pay. Even if you decide not to attend court, you should speak to the council or, if you prefer, your local Citizens Advice. The council will try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment – but they can’t do that unless you contact them.

If you ignore the court order

Your council can take action to get the money you owe from you.

Deductions from wages

Your council can order your employer to deduct a regular amount from your wages toward your unpaid Council Tax. If this means you’re struggling to pay your bills, you can ask your council if they’re willing to accept smaller payments.

Deductions from benefits

Your council may be able to apply to have money deducted from your benefits, like Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit.


Your council can send bailiffs to your home to seize property to sell. Your council must write to you 2 weeks before the bailiff’s first visit saying how much you owe.

You can contact the council and the bailiffs and try to agree a payment plan. However, if the bailiffs visit you their costs could be added to your bill.


If your council has tried using bailiffs but your bill still isn’t paid, they can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a warrant to send you to prison.

The court must hold an enquiry with you present. This is to find out if you can afford to pay the bill. If the court doesn’t think you have a valid reason for not paying, it can send you to prison for up to 3 months.

The court may decide to postpone imprisonment on certain conditions, like you agreeing to repay the debt over time. The court can also cancel all or part of the debt.

The longer you ignore a debt problem, the worse the situation becomes.

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