If you are in arrears with your council tax payments, you may want to try to get a debt arrangement. This means contacting your local authority and offering to make a payment arrangement in the amount you can afford. Make sure to explain why this amount will help you avoid further arrears and court costs. You can also contact your local councillor to intervene on your behalf.
In the event of a non-payment, the council may issue a liability order against you. This means that they can take money from your wages or benefit. However, it is important to remember that the process differs depending on where you live. In addition, if you contact your local council as soon as possible, they may agree to a payment plan that suits you.
Non-payment of council tax debts can lead to prison. In the UK, a court can sentence non-payers to up to three months in jail. However, if you cannot pay the full amount, you can still apply for a reduction. In exceptional circumstances, your council tax debt can even be written off.
The council can also take back your account from bailiffs. However, if you miss a deadline, they will send you a further reminder within a year. If you fail to respond to this second notice, the council will start legal action to recover the money that is due. You can also talk to a local councillor or free advice agency.
If you cannot pay, the council can issue a means enquiry hearing at the Magistrates’ Court. The magistrates will look into the reasons why you have not paid, as well as the amount you have offered to clear the debt. If you fail to pay, the council can take control of your goods or possessions.
In the event of a court appearance, you should seek legal advice. Local advice agencies and law centres can give you advice. If you cannot afford a solicitor, you can also use the Legal Help scheme. You should take with you proof of payments and any letters to the council and bailiffs.
Another option is to get a council tax reduction. These schemes are available to low income households and can help you to pay part or all of your bill. However, remember that these schemes are not backdated and you must pay them within the financial year. The financial year runs from April to March, so you should try and work out a realistic budget.