What can happen if you don’t pay your Council Tax

Debt advice and help with your Council Tax account

Council Tax collection and enforcement

The council has a duty to collect Council Tax and may have to take action to ensure payment is made. More information can be seen in our Council Tax Collection Commitment.

If you have difficulty paying your bill please contact us immediately to discuss how we may be help you.

What happens if I don’t pay?

You have a legal duty to pay your account on time. If you don’t pay on time we can take action to enforce payment. The steps we take are shown below. It is in your interest if you are having difficulty paying to ensure that you are claiming all the discounts and reductions that are available.

Your bill remains payable even if you disagree with the amounts and are applying for discounts and reductions or if you are making an appeal. You should also contact us at the earliest opportunity for advice and assistance as to your options.

You should note that late payment can lead to actions which incur costs, if you contact the council and are able to make suitable arrangements which you then keep to, then this action can be avoided.

First Reminder Notice

  • If you don’t pay your Council Tax bill on time, we will send you a First Reminder Notice.
  • If you pay within seven days of the date of the notice you can continue to pay monthly as shown on your bill.
  • If you don’t pay in seven days, we will allow another seven days for you to either pay the instalment or get in touch.
  • If you don't get in touch the council can withdraw your right to pay by instalments and issue a summons for the remainder of the bill with additional court costs

Second Reminder Notice

  • If you have been sent a first reminder notice, brought your account up to date but then fall behind again, we will send a second reminder notice.
  • If you pay within seven days of the date of the notice you will still be able to pay monthly.
  • If you don’t pay in seven days, we will allow another seven days for you to either pay the instalment or get in touch.
  • If you don't get in touch the council can withdraw your right to pay by instalments and issue a summons for the remainder of the bill with additional court costs.
  • If after bringing your account up to date, following a second reminder, you fall behind again you will not be issued any more reminders, at that point you will lose the right to pay by instalments and the council will issue a summons for the remainder of the bill with additional court costs.

Final Notice

  • This is issued when the last payment date on your bill has passed and an amount remains unpaid or where your account has been finalised because you have moved out of the property or someone else is now being charged, but a charge still remains outstanding. The total balance must be paid in full in seven days.
  • Failure to make payment as required by the Final Notice means that the council can issue a summons for the balance with additional court costs


  • Where failure to pay has resulted in the loss of your rights to pay by instalments a summons will be issued from the Magistrates’ Court.
  • The summons will give you details of when the council will take this matter to court (there will be at least 14 days notice between the issue date of the summons and the court date) You will have £100.00 costs added to your account.
  • To avoid having to attend court you must make payment in full (including the £100.00 costs) before the court hearing date, this means that the council will not ask the Magistrates for a Liability Order in your case.
  • If you can not pay in full then you can pay as per the arrangement (including the costs) suggested by the council. However, we will still ask the Magistrates to grant a ‘Liability Order’ to secure the debt (explained below).
  • Where you can not afford to make either payment in full or pay at the suggested arrangement level you must contact the council.
  • Providing you keep to the agreed payment arrangement, no further enforcement action will be taken.

If you have difficulty in paying any instalment, please contact the council before you fall into arrears. It may be possible to make a different arrangement for payment that you can afford. However, we would normally only be able to review your payment arrangement on one occasion prior to court action.

The Liability Order

If a Liability Order is granted, we will take appropriate enforcement action as quickly as possible, unless you have made an arrangement for payment.

If you do not make an arrangement for payment, or fail to keep to an arrangement made, we will take action to enforce payment of the debt without further notice.

How can we enforce payment?

The main ways we can enforce payment of the debt are as follows:

  1. If you are working an Attachment of Earnings Order may be sent to your employer who will be required to make deductions from your wage/salary until the debt is cleared.
  2. If you are claiming Universal Credit, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance or Pension Credit a request may be sent to the Department for Works and Pensions for deductions to be made from your Benefit.
  3. Instructing Enforcement Agents to take action to recover the debt.
  4. Place a charge on your property and force sale based on that order to recover monies owed.
  5. Bankruptcy/Liquidation proceedings.
  6. Committal to prison.

What is an Enforcement Agent and what can they do to recover the debt?

Enforcement Agent is the new name for bailiffs.

Enforcement Agents will initially issue an enforcement notice. This will incur costs of £75 payable by you. We will send you the enforcement notice at least 14 days before an enforcement agent visit. We will include with this letter full details of the costs which can be incurred. If you arrange payment immediately after receiving this letter, you can avoid paying enforcement agent costs. If you do not comply with this process then after the 14 days the Enforcement Agent will visit your home and can seize goods to the value of the debt. This can normally incur costs of up to a further £345 but can exceed this in the case of large debts.

The enforcement agent will give you the opportunity to make a satisfactory arrangement for payment before considering removing your goods. 

The fees that Enforcement Agents can charge:

  • Stage 1. Compliance (Notice of Enforcement letter) £75.00
  • Stage 2. Enforcement Agent visit £235.00 +7.5% of the debt’s value over £1,500 will be added when the Enforcement Agent makes their first visit
  • Stage 3. Removal and Sale of goods £110.00 +7.5% of the debt’s value over £1,500 will be added if the Enforcement Agent comes back to remove your goods

Further storage and auction costs will be added if your goods are removed and sold.

Which enforcement agent companies do we work with?

As part of our collection strategy we may pass un-collected Council Tax charges to our external partners CDER Group, Jacobs, Newlyn and Marston.

Our partners are national companies specialising in the ethical enforcement and collection of local authority debt. They abide by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 providing seamless Enforcement and Debt Collection services by working in partnership with Bradford Council

If these companies are collecting a Council Tax charge on behalf of Bradford Council then you need to contact them direct.

Contact details for our Enforcement Agent external partners are listed below:

CDER Group Ltd

Website: www.cdergroup.co.uk
Customer contact number: 0330 1070 023
Email: info@cdergroup.co.uk


Website: www.jacobsenforcement.com
Telephone: 0345 601 2692
Email: mail@jacobsenforcement.com


Website: www.newlynplc.co.uk
Telephone: 01604 633001
Email: enquiries@newlynplc.co.uk


Website: www.marstonholdings.co.uk
Telephone (to make a payment): 0300 320 1100
Telephone (to speak to a member of staff): 0333 320 1822

How do I know if a bailiff or enforcement agent is legitimate?

You can check to see if a bailiff or enforcement agent works for Bradford Council or a council's external enforcement agent partner by going to the Certified enforcement agent register.

Charging orders

Where the council has Liability Orders which exceed £1000 in relation to a property you own then we can apply for a Charging Order through the County Court. Once we have obtained the Charging Order if you still do not pay the charge and the costs, then we can use that order to take possession of your property and to sell it.

Bankruptcy and liquidation

The council can take action to make an individual bankrupt or to liquidate a company if they owe more than £5000. Any costs incurred by the council for making you bankrupt or by the administrator of your bankruptcy will be added to your debt and recovered from any monies or assets identified by the administrator.


If the enforcement agent is unable to recover the debt, and another way of enforcing payment is not appropriate, we will make an application to the Magistrates' Court for your commitment to prison. The commencement of Committal proceedings can result in additional costs in excess of £290 being incurred and the Magistrates can send you to prison for a period up to 3 months.

Read more about Council Tax arrears on the gov.uk website.

Contact details

Phone : 01274 437792

To make a payment arrangement, call us on 01274 437792 and choose option 3. You must supply your employment details before an arrangement is made.