How Council Tax debt is collected

The liability order gives the Council the following powers in order to collect any outstanding debt.

Deductions from your earnings or benefits

If your Council Tax is overdue, the debt can be cleared by deductions from your earnings, or from your benefits.

The Council can contact your employer if you are working, or the DWP if you are in receipt of:

  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee, or 
  • Universal Credit

The amount of deduction is fixed by law. 

You can read about the level of deductions that can be made from your wages/salary.

If you’re an employer of someone affected, read our guidance notes.

Enforcement agents

If the outstanding amount can't be recovered from your earnings or benefits, and no arrangement for payment has been made, the account could be passed to one of the Council's enforcement agents for collection. 

If a debt is passed to them, the Council will not be able to discuss any other payment arrangement. 

The enforcement agent will administer the case and will usually accept a reasonable offer of payment.

The enforcement agent will contact you directly and will charge extra costs for their services.

Enforcement charges

Enforcement agent fees are fixed by law. In most cases, if you owe less than £1,500 the fees are:

  • £75 when your case is sent to the enforcement agent
  • £235 if you ignore a letter from the enforcement agent and they have to visit you
  • £110 if they have to take your goods and sell them at auction

You'll still have to pay the enforcement agent for any action they take against you such as storing your goods or using a locksmith. 

If you owe more than £1,500, you'll also have to pay a percentage of your debt as an additional fee each, time an enforcement agent visits your home. 

You can challenge the enforcement agent if you think they've charged you the wrong fee or for something they haven't done. 

Charging orders

If you own your property, a charging order may be put on it. This means that if you try and sell it, your debt will have to be repaid from the proceeds of the sale.

The order can only be placed against the property where the liability order has been obtained for the outstanding Council Tax debt. 

You will incur the legal fee of the application.

Read about charging orders on the Citizens Advice website.

If the debt can't be recovered

If we are unable to collect the outstanding debt by other means, you will be summoned back to court to explain to the Magistrates the reasons why you’ve failed to pay the debt. 

The Magistrates will then tell you how much they to pay each week or month to the Council. 

If you do not pay, you may be summoned back to the court and could be sent to prison.