Below you will find what help is available and what happens if you fail to pay your bill.
If you are unable to pay your Council Tax you should contact the Council Tax section as soon as possible to discuss your personal circumstances.
The longer you leave contacting us the bigger your arrears will become and the harder it will be to make a suitable payment arrangement to clear the debt.
The sooner you contact us the better. You are less likely to be charged additional costs and the Council may be able to allow you a longer time to pay off the debt.
What happens if I don't pay as detailed on my bill?
When we sent you your Council Tax bill, we told you how much you had to pay and the dates when to pay instalments. If you do not pay exactly as requested we may send you a reminder notice and take further recovery action against you.
For example if you are making regular payments, but are paying later than the dates shown on your Council Tax bill, you may receive a reminder notice.
Receiving a reminder notice
You must pay the amount shown on the reminder within 7 days, this will bring your account up to date, and then you will need to pay all your instalments on time in future.
If you don’t pay the specified amount within 7 days we will send you a summons and add costs to your account.
If you pay but then don’t make payment of future instalments on time, you will lose the right to pay by instalments and if you then don’t pay the balance immediately, we will send you a summons and add costs to your account.
Receiving a Final Notice
We have withdrawn your right to pay by instalments.
You should pay the full balance immediately otherwise we will send you a summons and add costs to your account.
A summons is a legal notice requiring you to appear at the Magistrates Court. If you have not made payment as instructed by the reminder or final notice or contacted us to make an arrangement, a summons will be issued.
What happens now?
Once a summons is issued, then the Council will apply to the Magistrates Court for a Liability Order for the full amount of Council Tax including costs unless the amount is paid in full before the court hearing date.
Your right to pay by instalments has already been lost by this stage, however, under certain circumstances a special arrangement can be made after the Liability Order is granted.
Do I have to go to court?
If you do not attend, the hearing will go ahead without you and the Liability Order will be applied for (unless you have already paid the account, including costs, in full).
If you intend to attend the court hearing it is advisable to contact the customer contact centre on 0161 217 6014 to discuss your account.
If you choose to go to the court hearing, the magistrates will ask if you have a valid defence which will stop a Liability Order being granted. Please see the Related Documents on the right of this page which outlines valid defences.
What is a Liability Order?
A Liability Order is granted by the courts to give the Council higher powers to recover the unpaid Council Tax.
- First of all, if you still have not paid, or agreed an acceptable arrangement, you will be asked to provide details of your income.
This is so the debt can be recovered by attachment to earnings or certain benefits.
- If an attachment is not set up we would then consider passing the debt to an Enforcement Agent (before 6th April 2014 known as a Bailiff) to collect. This will incur additional costs and the Enforcement Agent has the right to take control of goods in order to sell them to enforce the payment of debts.
- If you don't make a suitable arrangement with the Enforcement Agent and you don't have enough goods to clear what you owe, we may decide to place a 'charging order' on your property, which allows us to collect the debt when the property is sold, or make you bankrupt. We may even decide to ask the Magistrates to commit you to prison.
Don't forget, the sooner you let us know if you are having any problems paying the better.