Struggling with council tax debt?

Council tax is one of the inevitable costs of living in the UK. While it pays for many beneficial services, many people find this expense difficult to budget for.

Council tax is classed as a ‘priority debt’ which means falling behind on payments can result in serious consequences. Ultimately, this could include legal action or even prison. Therefore, if you’re struggling to pay your council tax debt, you should get in contact with us as soon as possible.

Our sympathetic advisors have helped thousands of people like you. Get in touch and we’ll help find the best solution for your needs.

What happens if I fall behind on council tax payments?

If you think you might be about to miss a council tax payment – or have recently been unable to pay one – you should contact your council as soon as possible. There will be specific departments to deal with your situation.

By explaining your circumstances, you may be able to negotiate a solution. However, if this isn’t possible, or you cannot pay what you owe, the council could take legal action to reclaim the debt.

What happens when I miss a council tax payment?

With council tax debt, it is important to act as soon as possible as, once you've missed a payment, you could have an enormous bill to deal with.

First, the council will send a warning within 14 days of a missed payment. However, councils generally act extremely quickly on these and you might even hear from them within a couple of days.

After the warning is sent, you'll have just seven days to pay if you'd like to continue monthly instalments. After that, you'll be billed for the annual amount with only another seven days to pay it. Therefore, a bill for around £100 can quickly escalate into a demand for £1,200!

If this cannot be paid, the council may take legal action or send a bailiff. Alternatively, if you receive payment from benefits, such as universal credit, the council may take money from these.

Can bailiffs force entry for council tax debt?

Although a council can send a bailiff for council tax debt, these individuals cannot force entry into your home.

Can I go to prison for council tax debt?

In England, you can go to prison for not paying your council tax. However, it’s worth noting this will only happen in extreme cases. In this situation though, you could face a sentence of up to three months.

Can I get council tax debt written off?

Perhaps one of the best options for resolving large council tax debts – and stopping bailiffs – is to enter into an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement). Once the IVA ends, any remaining debts, such as your council tax bill, could be written off.

Furthermore, if council tax is included on your approved IVA, payments to the authority should cease while this debt solution is active.

Do I qualify for an IVA?

Although it’s possible to write off council tax debt through an IVA, this depends on if you qualify for one. Ideally, you should:

  • Owe more than £5,000 worth of debt.
  • Owe money to more than one creditor.
  • Have a sustainable source of income.
  • Be OK with an IVA lasting at least five years.

An IVA is likely your best chance of writing off council tax debts. If you think you’re eligible for this agreement, click the button below and get your application started:

Council tax explained

Council tax is implemented by local authorities and is used to pay for essential services, such as rubbish disposal and transport. Primarily, it is used by councils to increase their funding. This was introduced in 1993 and is based on home valuations.

How is council tax calculated?

Council tax is calculated based on the value of your home in 1991. Properties fall into one of eight bands between A and H. Depending on where your property falls, you will be charged a certain amount by your council.

Am I paying too much?

There are several discounts available for council tax and you may have your bill reduced (or disregarded) if:

  • You live by yourself.
  • You’re a student.
  • You’re seriously disabled.
  • You’re under the age of 17.
  • You have a low income.

For a full list of those who might be entitled to a reduction, please refer to Citizens Advice.

Can I complain to my council about a bill?

If you think your council tax bill is wrong, or feel you may be entitled to a discount, you can complain to your authority. Again, they will have departments specifically designed to deal with your query.

How many people struggle with council tax debt?

An estimated 2.2million households are believed to be in council tax arrears making this problem an extremely common one.

As this is classed as a priority debt, this means those families are in danger of facing serious consequences if they can’t pay. While most people pay their council tax monthly, a missed payment can suddenly become a big problem.

After one missed bill, you're liable for the full year's outstanding council tax. As a result, one missed monthly payment could easily result in an immediate £1,200 bill. Councils can use bailiffs to get the money they're owed and, in this situation, the debtor is liable for these fees.

This creates a cycle where the people who cannot afford to pay council tax also can’t afford to pay the bailiffs – as well as any associated court costs.

A debt solution, such as an IVA, could be one way to break the cycle.

Get council tax debt help

If you’ve missed council tax payments or are struggling to pay your bills, then we could evaluate your circumstances and determine the best option for resolving your council tax debt.

It could be that an IVA may be the right solution and, in this situation, we can take a proposal to the council detailing what you can afford to pay. Regardless, our aim is to help you get on top of your council tax debt – and keep those bailiffs at bay.

To find out more, click the button below:

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Our Insolvency Practitioners are authorised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Subject to eligibility and acceptance. Fees Payable. Debt write-off applies to unsecured debts only and on completion of an IVA. Your ability to obtain credit will be affected for the medium to long term. Homeowners may be required to release the equity in their property, if unable to release equity and equity is available creditors may request an additional 12 months payments in compensation.

Financial Support Systems Ltd provides insolvency solutions to individuals, specialising in IVA. Advice and information on alternative options will be provided following an initial fact find where the individual(s) concerned meets the criteria for an IVA and wishes to pursue it further. All advice given on any alternative options is therefore provided in reasonable contemplation of an insolvency appointment.

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