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What happens if you do not pay


If you do not pay your Council Tax

There are three main steps that happen if you do not pay your Council Tax.

  1. Reminder notice
  2. Summons letter
  3. Liability order and debt recovery

If you do not pay your Council Tax we will send you a reminder notice. If you receive a reminder notice you must pay immediately or risk a summons.

If you have made a payment in the last few days, or you disagree with the amount outstanding, please contact us.

You can continue to pay monthly instalments unless you have been issued a final notice. If you receive a final notice you will need to pay the whole year’s Council Tax up front.

If you do not pay after receiving a final notice, a court summons will be issued for the full amount. You will also have to pay extra court costs.

You will get a summons letter if you have ignored the reminder and final notice and still owe money on your Council Tax bill.

A summons starts the process with the court to recover the money owed.

If you pay the full amount, including any extra costs that have been added, before the court hearing then no further action will be taken.

Payment plan

If you cannot afford to pay in full it may be possible to make an arrangement for the money owed.

To do this you need to fill in our income and expenditure form . You can also contact the Debt Management team on 0300 3030164 (option 2) to make your proposal of payment.

The court hearing will still take place and a Liability Order will be applied for. If a payment deal has been agreed and you stick to the payment plan we will stop recovery action.

If no payment is made following a summons letter the case will go to court. If the magistrate makes the decision that you must pay then a liability order will be given. A liability order gives us powers to collect money that is owed.

If you attend the hearing, you may be interviewed by us. We will look at the possibility of a payment plan and also offer to help where we can, looking at any discounts that could apply.

Our powers to recover money owed

If you have not paid the money owed and we have a liability order for your debt then we have the following powers to help us recover this money.

We can get your employer to pay your unpaid Council Tax directly from your wages. We can also apply to take money from the following benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

If this means you do not have enough money to pay other bills, you can talk to us about setting up smaller payments. We do not have to agree to this.

We can send bailiffs (known as enforcement agents) to seize your property if there is no other way to recover your debt. We will tell you how much you owe before the bailiff visits you.

The bailiffs’ costs can be added to the total amount you owe the council. Find out more about this process on the Bailiffs and their fees page.

We can take you to court if you do not pay the money you owe and the bailiffs can’t recover enough property to cover it.

The court will consider whether you:

  • can afford to pay the bill
  • have a valid reason to not pay

You can be sent to prison for up to 3 months if the court decides you do not have a good reason to not pay your Council Tax and you refuse to do so.

If the court decides you have something to pay back you may be able to make an arrangement to pay your debt over time.

If you own your property and owe more than £1,000 a charge may be put against it to secure the debt. We can also start an order for sale proceedings to force the sale of your property to repay the amount outstanding.

If you were to sell your property then proceeds from the sale would have to be paid to clear the Charging Order and costs associated with it.

We can request that you provide information on your current employment status. If you do not work you should provide details of any benefits the household receives. You should also make an offer of repayment to the council if you are sent this form.

Failure to provide this information when requested to do so or failure to provide the correct information is an offence which could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

We have the power to make you bankrupt if you continue to fail to pay your arrears.

Related content

Pay your Council Tax

Change or update your details

Get money off your bill

Council tax banding and charges

About Council Tax

Related documents

Debt Management Strategy (PDF, 664KB)

Contact details

Council Tax, Local Taxation and Benefits, Municipal Offices, Town Hall Square, Grimsby, DN31 1HU


Telephone: 0300 3030164 option 5

Telephone opening times: Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm, except bank holidays