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Benefits and Council Tax

Debt management

In this section you will find the following information:

This page contains information relating to the local authorities recovery procedure.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties or changes to your circumstances please contact us without delay.

Use the links below to find the information you need:

Council Tax arrears

Can we reduce your bill?

If you're in receipt of DWP benefits and not claiming Council Tax Support, visit our council tax page.

Check if you are entitled to any Council Tax discounts or exemptions by visiting our discounts and exemption page.

Can we maximise your income? Visit the entitled to website or for further information.

Sign up to Open Portal where you can see your account and current bill status set up to pay via direct debit, make an application for benefits and more.

If you’re currently experiencing financial hardship you may wish to contact one of the following non-profit/non-judgemental organisations who may be able to provide free confidential and impartial advice, they may discuss the debt respite scheme (breathing space). Visit GOV.UK for more details.

Find information about debt relief orders on GOV.UK

Financial Statement Form

If you’re currently in arrears or financial difficulty please complete our financial statement form

What happens if you do not pay your Council Tax?

Reminder Notice

If you do not pay as per your billing date you will receive a reminder notice advising you must bring your account up to date within 14 days. If you pay within the 14 day period and fall behind again you will receive a second reminder notice. A maximum of 2 reminder notices will be issued within the financial year.

Final Notice

If you don’t pay within 14 days of the reminder a final notice will be issued losing your rights to pay by instalments and your full charge for the year must be paid immediately.

Court Summons

If the account is not paid as per the final notice a Court Summons will be issued and you will incur court costs at this stage.

What happens if you receive a Court Summons?

Contact us immediately if you are unable to pay the balance due, visit the Benefits and Council Tax page.

If you are unable to pay the balance in full you will be offered a special payment arrangement within your Summons, if you are unable to pay this further recovery action may be taken.

You should complete a financial circumstances form on receipt of the Summons to enable us to further review your circumstances.

What happens after Court?

A liability order authorises the local authority to take action as per below:

Attachment of earnings/benefits

The local authority may consider issuing an attachment of earnings order due to non-payment of Council Tax, a maximum of 2 attachment of earnings orders can be issued to a debtor which will take deductions directly from your earnings. This will be calculated at a percentage dependant on your earnings, for more information on the values please use our online calculator.

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credits we may consider issuing an attachment of benefits order to the Departments of Work and Pensions for deductions to be taken directly from your ongoing benefit award.

You will receive a copy of the Court Order served to your employer, please note we do not have to gain your permission to proceed with this action.


For further information in regards to the administration of an attachment of earnings order please see our pdf guide for employers (37 KB)  (opens in a new window).

Attachment of earnings calculator



Attachment of earnings acknowledgement form

View and complete the attachment of earning acknowledgment form.

Once you have completed the form, you will receive a thank you email from jotforms.

Housing Benefits Overpayments

An overpayment can happen if we pay you benefit that you are not entitled to. For example, if you didn't tell us that your income had increased, and a recalculation of your benefits meant that you had been paid too much benefit.

If we give you too much benefit, we will send you a letter. The letter we send you will tell you:

  • Why you were awarded too much benefit
  • How much the overpayment is
  • If you have to pay back the amount
  • How you can appeal if you think this is wrong          

If the overpayment relates to Housing Benefit and Housing Benefit is no longer in payment the overpayment is recovered via invoice. If the overpayment relates to council tax support, we will send you a revised council tax bill, and you will usually have to pay more council tax.

If you have received an invoice for the repayment of an overpayment and you are unable to repay this in full please contact us as soon as possible on 03004 560 560 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss a payment arrangement.

If you fail to make payment or contact us or to discuss further, we will consider recovery action such as:

Direct Earning Attachment

A deduction from 3% to 20% can be taken from your net wages. No Court action is required for this action.

The tables below set out the percentage of earnings that can be deducted by weekly and monthly earnings levels.

Amounts to be deducted by employers under direct earnings attchement (where earnings are paid weekly)
Amount of net earnings in £ Deduction rate (% of net earnings)
Less than £100 Nil
Exceeding £100 but not exceeding £160 3
Exceeding £160 but not exceeding £220 5
Exceeding £220 but not exceeding £270 7
Exceeding £270 but not exceeding £375 11
Exceeding £375 but not exceeding £520 15
Exceeding £520 20


Amounts to be deduced by employers under direct earnings attachment (where earnings are paid monthly)
Amount of net earnings in £ Deduction rate (% of net earnings)
Less than £430 Nil
Exceeding £430 but not exceeding £690 3
Exceeding £690 but not exceeding £950 5
Exceeding £950 but not exceeding £1,160 7
Exceeding £1,160 but not exceeding £1,615 11
Exceeding £1,615 but not exceeding £2,240 15
Exceeding £2,240 20

Attachment of Benefits

The local authority can request deductions to be taken from ongoing housing benefit award or from benefits/payments received from DWP such as Universal Credit, State Retirement Pension, Maternity Allowance.

Read  the Government's benefit overpayment recovery guide for more information.

Enforcement Agents

The outstanding balance can be referred to external Enforcement Agents for collection.

Apply to the County Court for a Tribunal Award or County Court Judgment (CCJ)

If a Tribunal Award is granted this may lead to Bankruptcy Proceedings against you or an application for a Charging Order being obtained against your property.

A Tribunal Award may affect your future credit rating and costs incurred added to the amount you owe.

Financial Circumstances Form

If you wish to set a payment arrangement but are currently in financial difficulty, please complete our financial circumstances form in full for us to review your circumstances.

Enforcement agents 

Enforcement agents are:

Dukes Bailiffs Limited - View Dukes Bailiffs Limited website

Tel: 01785 825500

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marston Holdings Enforcement Agents - view Marston Holdings website

Tel: 03333201822

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are unable to discuss repayment terms once your account has been passed to the Enforcement Agents therefore you should contact them directly.

Enforcement Agent Fees:

Stage 1 - Compliance Stage - £75.00

Stage 2 - Enforcement Stage - £235.00 (debts over £1,500 will be charged an additional 7.5%)

Stage 3 - Sale or Disposal at Auction - £110 (debts over £1,500 will be charged an additional 7.5%)

What happens if the Enforcement Agents are unable to collect your debt?

We will request HMRC provides your employers name and your earnings which would enable an attachment of earnings order to be served. If you’re not employed they will provide us information regarding your benefits in payment. 

Charging Order, Bankruptcy or Committal

If attempts at recovering outstanding tax via the above options the local authority will consider applying for a charging order against your property or taking bankruptcy proceedings against you.

Alternatively the local authority will consider requesting the Magistrates Court to issue a summons for you to attend a committal hearing, which could result in you being sent to prison for unpaid tax.

Struggling to pay?

View our money advice page

We understand debts are not always in isolation, other priority debts may need to be addressed. You may be able to receive support from your landlord, housing association, housing advice team- or shelter or Mortgage Company.

Freeman of the Land

The ‘Freeman of the Land’ movement and groups of this nature believe Council Tax is a contract and requires a signature in order for them to be legally held liable for payment of Council Tax.

This is incorrect, Council Tax is not contractual and is billed in accordance with legislation linked below and does not require your consent, there are no legal basis in withholding payments in relation to this argument as noted with the Manchester Magistrates’ court vs McKenzie (2015) case.

It is important to note

  • Council Tax liability is not optional
  • Refusal to pay quoting ‘Freeman of the Land’ will not exempt your liability
  • If you refuse to pay as per your bill further recovery action will be taken

Local Government Finance Act 1992 

Council Tax (Administration & Enforcement) Regulation 1992

Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011