Stages if you do not pay

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

First Reminder Notice

You should ensure that the payment reaches the council by the instalment date. If the payment is not received within 14 days of the instalment falling due, a Reminder Notice will be issued. If you receive a Reminder, you should make the requested payment immediately. Should the payment not be 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 can be issued.

Second Reminder Notice

If, after receiving 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 should once again become overdue, you will lose your right to pay by instalments without receiving any further notice. As with the First Reminder Notice, if you fail to pay the instalments due within seven days, your right to pay by instalments will be lost and a summons may be issued if payment of the total balance is not received after a further seven days.

Final Notice

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


If, after receiving one or a number of the above notices, you do not make the payment demanded, the council will apply to the local Magistrates' Court for a Summons to be issued against you. The issue of a Summons will also involve you incurring costs, which presently stand at £85.00; these are incurred at the time the Summons is issued and must be paid in addition to the outstanding balance of your council tax. The council will be prepared to discuss a way you can pay the Summons and you should contact us immediately. 

Liability Order

Failure to pay the Summons will result in the council making application to the Court for a Liability Order. This will give the council the power to instruct Bailiffs to visit your property to collect the money outstanding; this will incur further costs. The Liability Order also gives the council other powers, including instructing your employers to deduct the money directly from your salary or wages; making a deduction directly from your Income Support; and, in certain cases, having a charge put on your property, which could force it to be sold. Bankruptcy proceedings may also be considered.

Attachment of Earnings Order

The council may recover unpaid council tax from the debtor's employer once having obtained a liability order against them. If you are an employer and have received a letter relating to this please see our Attachment of Earning Order notes (PDF) and for full details on Attachment of Earning Deductions (Word).

Committal to prison

If the council are still unable to recover the debt outstanding, a further application for a Committal Summons may be made to the Magistrates' Court. This Summons will require you to appear before the Court to explain why the council tax has not been paid. If you do not answer this Summons, you can be arrested and brought before the court. These actions will once again incur further costs. If, after enquiring into your means and conduct, the Court find that the council tax has not been paid due to Wilful Refusal or Culpable Neglect, they can impose a term of imprisonment of up to 90 days.

Contact us

To prevent any of the above actions being taken, please ensure that your council tax is paid on time. If you do get into difficulty, contact us immediately using the form below. 

Council tax recovery - enquiry form