Council Tax recovery

Your Council Tax bill tells you how much you have to pay for the year and the dates you have to pay it. If a Council Tax payment remains unpaid then recovery action will start. 

If you haven’t spoken to us about a problem paying your bill, and you miss an instalment, we will ask you for payment. We do not know whether you have made a payment until it actually arrives on your account.

Reminders and final notices

If you don't pay an instalment of Council Tax by the date it is due, we will send you a reminder, asking for payment within seven days. If you still don’t pay, a summons will be issued, which will add costs to your account.

If you pay the amount you owe but fall behind with your instalments again we will send a second reminder. This gives you seven days to bring your instalments up to date. If you still don’t pay, a summons will be issued, which will add costs to your account.

We can only send a maximum of two reminder notices in any one financial year, so if you pay late a third time you will be sent a final notice for the full amount of Council Tax due for the rest of the year, and you will lose your right to pay in instalments.

Summonses and court orders

If you fail to pay after we have sent reminders or a final notice, we will make a complaint to the magistrates court and a summons will be issued, which will add costs to your account.

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax or facing financial difficulties you can access our money advice information.

We are here to help, but once a summons has been issued the options are limited, and payment arrangements will include at least £62.50 costs.

A summons is a court document telling you the date and time that the magistrates will consider whether they should issue a Liability Order against you, and where the hearing will take place.

It will also tell you the total amount of Council Tax that you owe, the period of time it refers to, and the costs you will have to pay.

Once the Liability Order is made by the Court, we can choose to start recovery action. 

Recovery action

Once a Liability Order is made, we can choose any of the following methods to recover the money owed:

  • Order your employer to make deductions from your wages
  • Ask the DWP to make deductions from your Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit
  • Start formal Enforcement Action by instructing an Enforcement Agency (Bailiff)
  • Putting a charging order on your property - meaning we could force you to sell your property to pay for your arrears
  • Applying to make you bankrupt
  • Applying to the Magistrates Court for you to be sent to prison

The Liability Order allows us to do any of these, but only one at a time. We will ask you for information about your personal and financial situation before we consider these options.

Attachment of benefits

We ask the Department for Work and Pensions to send part of your Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit directly to the council.

The amount deducted is £3.70 a week for Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance.

For Employment and Support Allowance the amount to be deducted will be:

  • Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (unless there would otherwise be an entitlement to income-based Employment and Support Allowance) is one third of your allowance.
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance is 5% of your allowance.

Deductions continue until the amount on the Liability Order is fully paid, or until your benefit stops for any reason.

Attachment of Earnings Orders

Once a Liability Order has been issued, we have the authority to collect unpaid Council Tax by serving an order on your employer. This means that they have to send some of the money they usually pay you to the council. 

Your employer will take a percentage of your net earnings and send it to the council. The tables show these percentages, which are set by the government and are not negotiable.

Deduction rates
Weekly EarningsMonthly EarningsAmount Taken
Up to £75 Up to £300 0%
£75 to £135 £300 to £550 3%
£135 to £185 £550 to £740 5%
£185 to £225 £740 to £900 7%
£225 to £335 £900 to £1,420 12%
£335 to £505 £1,420 to £2,020 17%
Over £505 Over £2,020 17% on the first £505 (weekly) or £2,020 (monthly) then 50% on the rest

Your employer can also deduct an extra £1 each time towards the administrative costs of doing this.

The deductions continue until the amount on the Liability Order is paid.

If you change jobs, or stop working, you must tell the council within 14 days.

Having trouble paying?

If you are having trouble paying or want to ask us something, you can visit our struggling to pay page to get support.

© Wigan Council