Debt advice

5. Council Tax arrears

What you can do:

You can prepare a personal budget plan and contact Council Tax to negotiate an arrangement to pay. Explain your circumstances and any difficulties you are having with payments. See our section on managing money for more information.

If possible, try to do this as soon as you start to have difficulties with payments to avoid summons costs and bailiff fees being added to the debt.

You should also check whether you are entitled to any reduction in your liability for Council Tax such as Council Tax Support, with the online benefit calculator on GOV.UK.

There is further useful information on the Council Tax difficulty paying your bill page.


If you have received a Magistrates' Court Summons you do not have to attend the hearing. At the hearing the council will obtain something called a Liability Order.

You will then receive a letter from the council which you must complete and return with 14 days. The letter includes a form asking you for details of your income and if you can, an offer to pay.

The Liability Order allows the council to recover Council Tax from you. This could be by way of an attachment of earnings, deductions from benefits or bailiff attendance.

They can also make an arrangement with you to clear your arrears in instalments.

What we can do

If you have not been able to negotiate an arrangement with the council, have received a Liability Order, or notice of bailiff attendance contact us for further advice.

We will be able to check if there any other options for dealing with your Council Tax arrears and we can help to negotiate a payment arrangement for you.

Further information about Council Tax Arrears and recovery is available on the National Debtline website.