Council Tax Arrears

Council Tax Arrears Debt Advice & Debt Help 

Council tax applies to all rented or owned domestic properties. The amount we pay is used to cover the cost of local services such as refuse collection, policing, roads, and schools. It is collected for the Council, including Adult Social Care, Police Authorities, Combined Fire Authority, and some parish councils.

Speak with your council as soon as possible if you are struggling to pay your Council Tax or any council tax arrears.

You can choose to spread your payments over 12 months instead of the usual 10 to reduce the amount you’re asked to pay on each bill. Ask your council to set this up for you.

Your council may provide a one-off discount if you still can’t pay what you owe and you check to see if you qualify for:

If you have Council Tax Arrears

Your council will provide a notice giving 7 days to pay any council tax arrears. If you don’t pay within 7 days, you’ll have to pay the whole year’s Council Tax instead.

You’ll be notified again if you continue to miss the next payment incurring further Council Tax arrears.

Typically, you will receive 2 reminder notices in a financial year – each financial year will cover from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.

Finally, your local council will send you a final notice confirming payment due for the whole year’s Council Tax if you continue to miss a payment for the third time.

If you continue to fall into further council tax arrears

The local council can enforce your employer to start paying any Council Tax arrears directly from your wages. This is called an attachment of earning.

Your council can also apply to take money from benefit payments, this is sometimes referred to as an attachment of benefits or a deduction of benefits. Below is a list of benefits that they can collect any council tax arrears from:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

If this means you struggling to maintain the repayments to your other essential items of living, you can request that your council collect smaller payments. It is worth noting that your council does not have to agree however they will usually try to arrange it with you.

High Court Enforcement Agents / Bailiffs

The council can use bailiffs or enforcement agents to organise the seizure of your assets if there is no other alternative way to recover the council tax arrears. They will notify you of how much you owe before they visit you.

The fees that are incurred to cover the cost of the bailiffs’ can be added to the total amount you owe further increasing your council tax arrears.


If the council is still unable to collect enough of your assets to cover the outstanding council tax arrears, they can take you to court.

The court will assess and consider your individual circumstances and then decide if you:

  • can afford to pay the bill
  • or, have a valid reason to not pay

Whilst this is very rare, you can be sent to prison for up to 3 months if the court decides you don’t have a good reason to not pay your Council Tax and you refuse to do so.

If the court decides you have something to pay back, you may be able to arrange to pay your debt over time.

Know Your Rights

Many people are unsure in regards to the rules and exemptions of council tax, what has to be paid. This is why our council tax arrears review has been created to help, with all of the. At Debt Support Direct, we help with this as well as offering advice, an overview of council tax and solutions for those struggling with their council tax payments.

You can speak to one of our council tax arrears debt advisors who can advise what options maybe available for you by clicking here and applying online.


Free and impartial money advice is available from the Money Helper, an organisation set up by the Goverment for people in debt.