If I don't pay my Council Tax

The instalments that are due and payable are itemised on the latest council tax bill issued to you. For detailed information about council tax instalments, please go to the payments page

If you do not make payment of your council tax as shown on the bill, you will be issued the following:

Reminder notice

Legislation stipulates that a reminder may be issued anytime after the due date of an instalment where the amount stated has not been paid. Generally we will allow in the region of 14 days grace time for instalments due on the first of the month before issuing a reminder notice.

If the amount stated on the reminder is paid in full then the original instalment plan specified on the latest Council Tax bill will resume. If the full amount is not paid within within seven days of the issue of the reminder notice, then legislation allows for a summons to be issued. We will, however, not issue a summons following a reminder. Instead, a final notice will be issued to allow a further opportunity for payment to be made without the costs associated with a summons being incurred.

Second reminder

If you have previously received a reminder then brought your account up-to-date, but fail to pay a subsequent instalment in full, a second reminder will be issued.

If the amount stated on the second reminder is paid in full then the original instalment plan specified on the latest Council Tax bill will resume. If the full amount is not paid within within seven days of the issue of the reminder notice a final notice will be issued. Where a second reminder has been issued and the amount stated is paid that prevents a final notice being produced, should the instalment plan be defaulted on at any further point in the financial year no further reminder notices can be sent and a final notice will be issued.

Final notice

A final notice is issued where:

  • The amount stated on a reminder notice has not been paid in full at the time the final notice has been produced, or;
  • Two reminders have previously been issued within the financial year and the account has fallen into arrears on a third occasion.

When a final notice is issued the right to pay by instalments is lost and the full amount of tax for the year becomes due. If the full amount is not paid within seven days then a summons will be issued. We will on occasion use discretion should payment of an amount that brings the account up-to-date in line with the original instalment plan be paid within seven days. Should this discretion be exercised, then it will only be on the first occasion that a final notice is issued.


If the amount of Council Tax due on the final notice remains unpaid then the we will make a complaint to the magistrates court and a summons will be issued. Costs for issue of the summons amounting to £50.00 will be incurred.

The summons notice will specify the date the we will make an application for a liability order from the magistrates court. Currently, due to Covid-19 all court hearings are being conducted remotely via audio connection. Full details of how the hearing is conducted can be found in the accompanying notes with the summons notice.

Where a summons is issued between April and December we will include an arrangement proposal with the summons notice. If you agree to the proposed arrangement then you simply need to commence with payment as instructed and no further action will be taken. Alternatively, you can submit your own proposals for us to consider. For summons that are issued between January and March you will be required to either pay the amount in full or submit a repayment proposal.

Submit repayment proposal >

Liability order

A liability order is obtained in the magistrates court and follows the issue of a summons. When a liability order is obtained, further costs of £25.00 are incurred. Where the full balance of the summons (including the £50.00 costs associated with issue of the summons) is paid before the liability order hearing date, then no further action will be taken and no additional costs incurred.

At the hearing, an authorised representative of Scarborough Borough Council will make an application for liability orders. For the court to grant a liability order in favour of the council, they must be satisfied that:

  • The dwelling the application relates to appears on the Council Tax banding list
  • That we have set the tax by resolution of the full council
  • A bill and at least one reminder and a summons have been posted to your last known address
  • You have not paid the tax as per the bill, or part of it

If the magistrates decide that it is likely that the above is true, they must grant a liability order. The magistrates cannot take into consideration the following:

  • Whether you agree the tax should be paid
  • Your ability to pay
  • If you disagree with the amount
  • If you are disputing the award of a reduction
  • Whether your local support for Council Tax has been worked out correctly

The magistrates however will class the following as a valid defence:

  • Where we has not supplied evidence that proves the points above
  • Where the amount has been paid in full including costs

If you have commenced with payment of an agreed arrangement at the point the liability order is obtained then no further action will be taken.

Once a liability order has been obtained, we can request that the person(s) named on the order supply information regarding their employment and income details. Once such a request has been made, it is a legal requirement to respond. Failure to provide a response is a criminal offence and a fine amounting to £500 can be imposed. Any response where false information has been knowingly supplied will result in a fine of £1000 being imposed.

Actions after a liability order has been obtained

If you do not make payment as stipulated on the arrangement proposed with the summons, maintain an agreed proposal or pay in full, the liability order gives usl the power to commence with enforcement action to recover the debt. Actions that can be taken include:

Attachment of earnings order

We can order your employer to take deductions from your earnings. When an attachment of earnings order is submitted, we provide your employer the full amount outstanding and they calculate the deduction to be taken in accordance with prescribed regulations dependent on the amount of net pay. Deductions will continue to be taken until the full amount of the order is settled. Where there is more than one liability order, we are permitted to order your employer to make a maximum of two sets of deductions.

Attachment of earnings calculator >

Attachment to DWP benefit allowance

We can instruct the Department for Work and Pensions to take deductions from the following benefit allowances:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Guaranteed Pension Credit

Enforcement agents

We can instruct appointed enforcement agents to collect debts outstanding subject to a liability order. Enforcement agents have the power to seize goods in order to raise funds towards the balance owed.

Once we have instructed the enforcement agent to act a cost of £75.00 per liability order will be added to the debt. If you fail to cooperate with the enforcement agency when they try to contact you, then they will instruct an agent to attend your property for the purpose of seizing goods and a further charge of at least £235.00 will be incurred.

Costs associated with enforcement agents (PDF) 

At the point the enforcement agent is instructed, we will no longer become involved in payment negotiations and you must liaise with the enforcement agents directly.

We have three appointed enforcement agencies authorised to collect Council Tax debts on our behalf:

Bankruptcy proceedings

We can instruct our external litigation solicitors to commence with bankruptcy proceedings against you. If we take this action, our solicitors will issue a letter before action. If you fail to respond, they will arrange a process server to issue a statutory demand which will gives you 21 days to pay the debt in full. If you do not make contact with our solicitors or pay in full within the 21 days, they will petition to the county court for a bankruptcy order. All legal costs associated with appointing our external solicitors and the bankruptcy process will be added to the debt.

Charging order/order for sale

We can instruct our litigation solicitors to make an application to the county court to place a charging order on your property. Our solicitors will issue a letter before action first and if no proposals are made then an application will commence to secure the debt against the title deeds of your property. If you fail to make suitable payment after a charging order has been obtained then our solicitors can make a further application to the county court for an order for sale which gives us powers to evict you from the property and sell it to pay the outstanding debt. All legal costs associated with appointing our external solicitors and the charging order/order for sale process will be added to the debt.

Committal to prison

If we have exhausted all viable efforts to recover the debt, we may make an application to the magistrates court for a committal order. If the magistrates are satisfied there has been wilful refusal or culpable neglect on your part to pay your Council Tax liability then they may impose a custodial sentence of three months.

Providing income and expenditure information

If you have been asked to provide income and expenditure details, this can be done here:

Provide income and expenditure >