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If you don't pay your council tax

Find out what happens if you don't pay your council tax, summons and liability.
Council tax Christmas opening hours

The council tax line will be closed from Wednesday 27 December 2023 to Monday 1 January 2024.

It will reopen Tuesday 2 January 2024. 

If you’re having problems paying your bill, please get in touch to see if we can help you – don’t wait for a reminder notice or court summons.


As soon as you miss a payment we will send you a reminder. This lets you know that your payment is late. This reminder gives you seven days to make all the payments you have
missed. If you do not pay all the money you owe, we will send you a summons for the full amount and charge you additional costs. 

If we have sent you a reminder, but you have evidence that you have already paid, you can dispute a payment using our online form.

Final notice

If you are sent a final notice, you lose the right to continue to pay by instalments and have to pay all the council tax you owe for the remainder of the financial year within seven days.

If you do not pay the full amount of the council tax within seven days, then you will receive a summons. You can pay in full now or make a payment arrangement request.

Court summons

You’ll receive a court summons if you fail to pay your Council Tax after a reminder/final notice or you haven’t been in touch to agree a revised payment plan.

The summons will tell you the date and time of the hearing at the local Magistrates’ Court and the amount we are seeking to recover.

When we issue a summons, a cost of £72.50 is added to your account. You must pay the amount shown on your summons, including the court costs before the hearing date.

If you pay the amount shown on the summons in full before the hearing date, you will not have to pay further summons costs added on the hearing date.

We can still help you at this stage if you get in touch so we can try to work out a realistic payment schedule with you, make a summons payment arrangement request.

Summons surgery

If you would like to speak to someone about your court summons you can book a summons surgery, which is a telephone call with one of our officers. Use the form below by booking a telephone appointment between 9am and 4pm BEFORE the hearing date on your summons notice.

Please have your court summons to hand.

Our surgeries take place every Wednesday (except on public holidays) by telephone call. You will receive a telephone call on the date and time you have chosen. Please note the call back may be from a withheld number.

Summons payment arrangement

Set up a payment arrangement to pay your summons. By requesting a payment arrangement, you will not stop the action we are taking against you. We will contact you within 10 working days to confirm:

  • if we have agreed to your arrangement
  • details of the amounts you need to pay.

Your liability order hearing will be held on the date shown on the front of your summons letter. If you arrange a payment plan that finishes after your court hearing date, you will have to pay an extra £50 for the liability order. You can avoid this extra cost if you pay in full now.

Liability order

If you don’t pay the summons amount and costs before the court hearing date we will ask the magistrates to grant us a liability order, which allows us more powers to recover Council Tax.

A liability order allows us to deduct money from certain benefits or your wages, or to ask an enforcement agency (bailiff) to collect the money from you. An additional £50 for you to pay is added on at the hearing date once the liability has been granted.

We could also obtain a charging order, take bankruptcy proceedings or committal proceedings. Find out more about ways we can recover Council Tax payments.


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