Problems paying your Council Tax?
If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, get in touch with us immediately so that we can help.
Do not wait to get a reminder. If you ignore a reminder, you will be sent a court summons and you will then end up having to pay additional costs.
We can set up arrangements for you to pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Council Tax is a priority debt along with rent, mortgage, fuel bills, child maintenance and court fines. You need to prioritise the payment of Council Tax because serious action can be taken if you do not pay.
Want to pay your Council Tax?
Are you struggling financially?
There are organisations you can speak to if you’re having problems with debt. More information is on our website .
Please do contact us if you are struggling to pay your council tax. Don't wait for the reminder bills.
Free and impartial debt advice is available from:
Citizens Advice Allerdale
Workington CA14 2RS
Tel: 01900 604735
The Money Advice Service
Tel: 0800 138 7777
What happens if you don't pay?
If you do not bring your payments up to date after being sent a reminder, you will be sent a court summons with costs added to your account. A maximum of two reminders will be sent out each year. If you are late paying for a third time, a final notice will be issued.
A final notice means that you will lose the right to pay by monthly instalments and all of the year’s remaining Council Tax falls due immediately.
If you cannot pay the whole amount shown within 14 days you should contact us immediately.
If you do not pay the full amount, or you do not contact us, a court summons will be issued with costs added to your account.
The Magistrates Court will issue a summons if:
- you don't pay anything
- you have failed to keep your instalments up to date
- you pay some but not the entire bill
If you get a summons, you will be charged costs.
It's always best to contact us if you cannot pay on time. Email us or call us on 0300 373 3730.
A Liability Order is granted by the court and gives us various legal powers. These include:
- instructing your employer to take money direct from your pay
- instructing the Department for Work and Pensions to take money direct from your benefits or pension credit
- use of enforcement agents (bailiffs) to collect the debt. This will cost you more money and you could lose your belongings which are sold to pay your debt (see below for further information on enforcement agents).
We can also consider:
- bankruptcy proceedings
- putting a Charging Order on your property if you own your home, then enforcing a sale
- applying to the magistrates for a warrant to send you to prison for non-payment.
If you are unable to pay, you should contact us immediately.
The earlier you contact us, the less likely it is that you will have to pay extra costs. Email us or call us on 0300 373 3730.
The enforcement agent must:
- carry official identification at all times
- carry written authorisation to act on behalf of the council
- produce the above items if asked to identify themselves
- issue an official receipt for payments.
If you receive a letter or a visit from an enforcement agent, you should contact them urgently to discuss your options for repayment as additional enforcement agents' fees will be added. The table below outlines what they are.
If your account has been sent to an enforcement agent you must make payments directly to them.
|Stage||Fee||Percentage fees if debt greater than £1,500 (extra to fee)|
|Compliance: This fee is added to your debt when your account is sent to an enforcement agent for collection.||£75||0%|
|Enforcement: If you do not arrange to pay the enforcement agent, or arrange to make payment and then do not pay as agreed, the agent will then visit you and this fee will also be added to your debt.||£235||7.5%|
|Sale: If you do not sign a Controlled Goods Agreement when an enforcement agent visits your property, or you do not pay as agreed after signing a Controlled Goods Agreement, the agent can remove and sell your goods and this fee will also be added to your debt.||£110||7.5%|
Visit GOV.UK for more information about enforcement agent powers and removal of goods.
What is an Attachment of Earnings Order?
It is a legal document that we send to your employer which requires them to take money from your wage to pay your outstanding Council Tax arrears. Your employer can also take an extra £1 for each deduction for their administration costs.
We can send a maximum of two orders at any one time and you will be issued with a copy of each order.
When will deductions start?
We ask your employer to start making deductions as soon as possible. You will need to ask them when this will be if you are unsure.
How much will be taken from my wage?
The amount deducted is calculated based on a percentage of your net pay as detailed in the tables below, depending if you are paid weekly or monthly.
|Net weekly earnings||Weekly deductions||Deduction rate|
|Not exceeding £75||Nil||0%|
|Exceeding £75 but not exceeding £135||£2.25 to £4.05||3%|
|Exceeding £135 but not exceeding £185||£6.75 to £9.25||5%|
|Exceeding £185 but not exceeding £225||£12.95 to £15.75||7%|
|Exceeding £225 but not exceeding £355||£27.00 to £42.60||12%|
|Exceeding £355 but not exceeding £505||£60.35 to £85.85||17%|
|Exceeding £505||Minimum £85.85||17% in respect of the first £505 and 50% of the remainder|
|Net monthly earnings||Monthly deductions||Deduction rate|
|Not exceeding £300||Nil||0%|
|Exceeding £300 but not exceeding £550||£9.00 to £16.50||3%|
|Exceeding £550 but not exceeding £740||£27.50 to £37.00||5%|
|Exceeding £740 but not exceeding £900||£51.80 to £63.00||7%|
|Exceeding £900 but not exceeding £1,420||£108.00 to £170.40||12%|
|Exceeding £1,420 but not exceeding £2,020||£241.40 to £343.40||17%|
|Exceeding £2,020||Minimum £343.40||17% in respect of the first £2,020 and 50% of the remainder|
Will any overtime I work be included?
Yes. The deduction is worked out using your net earnings. If you work extra hours and your pay increases, the amount deducted will also increase.
Will deductions be made if I am on sick pay?
Yes. The deduction is worked out using your net wage. If your earnings reduce the amount deducted will also reduce. If you know that your earnings are too low to make deductions, you must contact us immediately. If you do not contact us we will recover the money in another way.
How will I know how much is left to pay?
Your employer will keep a record of how much is left to clear your bill and should stop making deductions once the amount is paid in full. Your wage slip should also tell you how much has been taken for the order. Remember that your employer can take an extra £1 for each deduction for their administration costs. We recommend that you keep wage slips as your record of the amount paid. If you need more information about the balance left to pay, speak to your employer.
Can I tell my employer not to make deductions?
No. An Attachment of Earnings Order is a legal document. Your employer must make deductions, or they could be prosecuted.
Can I make an alternative arrangement to pay so that my employer does not have to make deductions?
Once an Attachment of Earnings Order has been sent it will not be stopped unless you pay the outstanding amount in full. We will not arrange alternative payment with you at this stage. If you pay the amount in full, you must contact us so that we can arrange for the order to be stopped.
What if I change jobs or stop work?
If you change jobs, you must tell us of your new employment details. If you are no longer working, you must contact us to discuss your situation. You may be entitled to some help towards your bill. You will also be able to discuss payment of the outstanding amount and stop any further recovery action.
What if I do not agree that I owe the money?
If you think the amount on the order is wrong, or that it should not have been sent, you should contact us immediately.
After a Liability Order is granted against you by the Magistrates, we can instruct the Department for Work and Pensions to make deductions from the following benefits:
- Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
- Income Support (IS)
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit (PCGC)
- Universal Credit (UC)
The attachment of benefit can only happen if the person whose name appears on the Council Tax bill is in receipt of one of the above benefits.
The Department for Work and Pensions will pay the deduction over to us on a monthly basis until the debt is cleared.
If you owe at least £1,000 in Council Tax and own your own home, we can ask the court to grant a Charging Order.
This means that when your home is sold we will receive payment of the debt and any legal costs before any of the proceeds from the sale are given to you.
If you owe Council Tax of £5,000 or more, we may decide to take bankruptcy action against you.
If we do, we will write to you first with details of your debt and explain how bankruptcy will affect you.
The consequences of bankruptcy can be severe. The Insolvency Service has information and advice about being made bankrupt.
If enforcement agents have not been able to collect your debt and we have tried all other suitable actions to obtain payment without success, we can ask the Magistrates Court to summons you to appear before them for a committal to prison hearing.
The court will conduct a means enquiry and ask you to explain why you should not be sent to prison for non-payment.
The court has the power to impose a prison sentence of up to three months if wilful refusal or culpable neglect is proven at the hearing.
You can contact us by:
- post at Revenues Section, Cumberland Council, Allerdale House, Workington CA14 3YJ
- phoning 0300 373 3730