Council Tax Recovery
Important Information about your Summons
Why have I been sent a Summons?
According to the Council’s records you have not paid the required amount of Council Tax or Business Rates that you have been billed for. By this stage you will have received a demand notice and at least one reminder notice, but your account is still not up-to-date.
What if I have made an appeal to the Valuation Office?
Council Tax or Business Rates must be paid according to the current circumstances and you cannot legally withhold payment pending the outcome of an appeal about your band or rateable value. If your appeal is successful, you will receive any credit that is due to you.
What should I do if I have a query about my bill?
Do I need to attend court?
You have a right to attend the court hearing but, if you do not wish to, it can continue in your absence. If you do attend, you may only be able to address the court on certain points. It is ultimately for the court to decide what the valid defences are against the issue of a Liability Order, which may differ depending upon whether the subject matter is Council Tax or Business Rates. However, the court will generally only consider such defences if the Council has not billed you properly, or you can prove the bill has already been paid. Not having any money is not a valid defence, and the court will not consider your ability to pay at this hearing.Please note: For Council Tax payers the court is unable to consider any arguments relating to Council Tax Support (CTS) entitlement. If you have any queries regarding CTS entitlement, please contact the Council before the hearing to discuss the matter.
What happens at court?
The Council will make an application to the Magistrates’ Court for a Liability Order to be issued against you. Once granted, the Order gives the Council various powers, including deducting money from your benefits or earnings for Council Tax arrears, making you bankrupt or winding up your company, and referring your debt to an Enforcement Agent (previously known as a bailiff). These may involve you incurring additional costs and some can be commenced without the Council sending you any further notification.
Can I make a payment plan?
It may be possible to make an arrangement to pay. For Council Tax debts, full details of your employer or income will be required first. The Council will still attend court to obtain a Liability Order but, as long as the arrangement is kept to, no further recovery action will be taken. If you make an arrangement, you do not need to attend court, as the Liability Order can be applied for in your absence. Please note that any arrangement will also include £20 Liability Order costs. The earlier you contact the Council to make an arrangement the sooner you will start to clear your debts.
What costs do I have to pay?
As a summons has already been issued, you have now incurred £130 costs (for non-payment of Council Tax), or £140 (for Business Rates). If full payment including the costs is not made prior to the court hearing, an additional £20 costs will be added to your account once a Liability Order has been granted. Depending upon what action is then taken to recover the debt, further costs could be incurred, some of which may be considerable. If your case is referred to an Enforcement Agent, you will incur at least a further £75 in fees.
Help and Advice
Comprehensive help and advice on financial and other matters can be obtained from the Citizens Advice Bureau, at the Council offices on Bowling Green Road. You can visit the CAB on weekdays between 9.00am and 2.00pm and make an appointment by calling directly on 01536 482281.
Need to make a payment? Visit our payments page but bear in mind you will need to take any costs into account.