Stages if you do not pay

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

Text reminders - informal action

In the first instance, if you miss an instalment in the financial year and we hold your telephone number on your account, we may send you a text message before taking any formal recovery action.

This service can prevent statutory recovery documents being issued and may help you avoid paying expensive costs.

Whilst this service is offered to prevent customers from falling further into arrears, it should not be relied upon and may not always be available. It is your responsibility to maintain the instalments due on your account in line with the bill issued and failure to do so may result in recovery action being taken.

The text message will contain a short link which will look like this This service is confidential, your mobile number will not be shared with third parties. You will not get any other marketing messages to your phone.

If you wish to OPT out of text messages being sent to you - you can contact us to remove your telephone number from your account. Please bear in mind that if you choose to opt out and fall behind on your instalments, you will still be subject to formal recovery stages as below. 

Formal recovery stages

First Reminder Notice

You should ensure that the payment reaches the council by the instalment date. If the payment is not received by the date it is 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 enforcement agents 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). Please note this is a different and separate process to Direct Earnings Attachments (DEA) for overpaid benefits. 

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

Debt advice

If you are struggling to meet your council tax repayments and are in arrears due to debt concerns we may be able to help you. Please contact us as soon as you can so we can discuss a suitable repayment plan with you. If you have a number of debts you may also find the following websites useful for getting help and advice: