Difficulties paying your Council Tax

People's circumstances can mean that they have difficulties paying their Council Tax* If you're on low income you may be eligible for support to make your payments affordable. 

Listed below are a number of ways the Council can support you in making your Council Tax payments if you are having difficulties paying.   

*The Council has a legal duty to seek to recover all outstanding debts. Paying Council Tax on time helps us to keep the amount you are required to pay as low as possible. 


Everyone is entitled to pay their current year’s demand by instalments. If you receive a demand at the start of the financial year you will be given 10 instalments. Where demands are issued later in the year, the number of instalments you can pay over will be reduced. Everyone has the right to make a request for their payments to be extended for up to 12 months (i.e. April to March). Contact us to discuss what we can do for you or complete the online application form.

If your payment date is inconvenient, consider paying by Direct Debit as this gives you a choice of payment dates. You can complete the online Direct Debit application form for this to be arranged.

If you are struggling to meet your payments contact us as soon as possible to discuss your options on 0345 140 0845.

If you are on a low income you may be eligible to receive Council Tax Reduction. Contact us to discuss what we can do to help you.

If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, you may be able to request an Exceptional Hardship Fund payment if you are experiencing hardship caused by unusual or extreme circumstances. The Exceptional Hardship Fund policy statement can be found under Related Links and application form can be found under Do It Now. 

While your Universal Credit Application is being considered, you should continue to pay the monthly instalments shown on your Council Tax bill, or as detailed in any special payment agreement you may have.

Even if your application is successful, there could still be an amount of Council Tax to pay after any Council Tax Reduction is awarded.

If you are unable to pay the instalments demanded, and wish to discuss a temporary payment arrangement while your application is being decided, please call the Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845, or visit the Southport or Bootle One Stop Shop, which are open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm. See Related Links for more information.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also arrange an appointment in order for you to receive money advice, which will incorporate Personal Budgeting Support for Universal Credit applicants. See Sefton CAB in Related Links.  

If payments are not made in accordance with your bill and you do not pay the instalments that are due, you will be sent a Reminder Notice asking you to bring your payments up to date within 7 days. The full year’s charge will become due if the payments are not brought up to date.

If you pay nothing, or continue to pay late and receive a Final Notice, your right to pay by instalments is lost and you will be expected to pay the outstanding balance in full.

If you do not pay the amount outstanding, or fail to make an acceptable payment arrangement (usually by Direct Debit), we will continue with recovery action.

The Council will apply for a Court Order, called a Liability Order, against anyone who fails to pay following a Reminder or Final Notice.

If the amount(s) due have not been paid, recovery action has been taken against you. The Summons includes costs, which have now been incurred. If the total amount due, is not paid, the court will be asked to grant a Liability Order against you. 

You do not have to attend court:

  • If you do not dispute that you owe the amount due.
  • If the total amount due, including costs is paid before the date of the hearing.

If you are having difficulty paying the full payment, you must contact us as soon as possible with your proposed payment arrangement by completing the online payment arrangement form found in the Do it online section of this web page.

All payment arrangements must be made with the agreement of the Council.

The Council will still apply for a Liability Order but won't take any further proceedings if you make the payments as agreed.

If you dispute that you owe the amount due, contact the Council before the Court hearing date.

 

Liability Order

A Liability Order allows the Council to deduct money from certain benefits or your wages, or to ask enforcement agency (bailiff) to collect the money from you.

We could also obtain a charging order, take bankruptcy proceedings or committal proceedings. 

If you have several debts and are experiencing problems in paying them it may help if you get independent guidance from an advice agency.
 
They may be able to help you prioritise the debts, work out how much you are able to afford and may negotiate repayments on your behalf. As well as advice about dealing with debts they may also provide information about Benefit entitlement and Council Tax discounts, reduction and exemptions.
 
Local and national agencies that give free advice are listed in the 'Related Links' area of this page.

Sefton Council is committed to working in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau, and its Enforcement Agents, to ensure access to high quality debt advice and fairness in collecting Council tax debt. Full details can be found on this policy document:

Debt Collection Protocol Policy Document (pdf 380KB)

 

 

The Corporate Debt Policy and Procedures is the Council’s statement on how it works with its customers and partners to collect debt from both citizens and businesses. The document below details the Council’s policies on the billing, collection and recovery of money due to the Council. 

Sefton Council Corporate Debt Policy (pdf 618KB)

The document below has been designed HM Government to help you understand if you are paying the right amount of Council Tax.

Paying the right level of Council Tax (pdf 366KB)

Last Updated on 03 July 2019