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Priority debts - Council Tax

Only people over 18 can be made to pay the bill. If there is more than one person over 18 living in your home, the owner will normally have to pay the bill. Joint owners and married or unmarried partners may have to pay even if their names are not on the bill.

Can I reduce my bill?
You may get a reduction if someone living in the house has a disability. Apply to the council for this. Only some properties will qualify. Contact a local advice agency.

You may get a discount if:

  • you are the only adult in the house
  • you share your house only with people who are not taken into account, such as a full-time student, or student nurse, someone on a youth training scheme or someone with a mental disability who is getting certain disability benefits.

Tell the council if you think you may qualify for a discount.

You may be able to claim Council Tax Benefit if you are on a low income with less than 16,000 savings or you are on Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance or other benefits.

You may be able to claim a rebate called Second Adult Rebate if you share your house with someone on a low income who does not pay rent and is not your husband, wife or partner, and you don't already get a discount for them.

What happens if I don't pay?
The council will usually tell you to pay your bill in 10 monthly instalments but they may accept weekly payments. If you find you can't pay the full installment don't just stop paying:
  • If your circumstances have changed apply for Council Tax Benefit.
  • Keep paying what you can afford.
  • Contact the council and try to come to an arrangement. Use your personal budget to help explain your situation.
Liability Orders
If you don't keep to any payment arrangement you make with the council they will ask the Magistrates Court to make a Liability Order for the full amount plus court costs. The Order states that you are due to pay your Council Tax and have not done so.

The court must make the Liability Order unless:

  • the council has not gone through the proper procedures
  • you have paid the amount owed
  • the name on the summons is wrong.

If one of these applies to you, tell the council immediately and attend the court hearing. You should get 14 days' notice of the hearing.

Because of the council's powers to make you pay Council Tax you must treat it as a priority debt. If you can't pay the full amount:

  • claim Council Tax Benefit
  • check the bill has been worked out correctly
  • contact your council and make an arrangement to pay
  • pay what you can afford
  • if you have credit debts, use your personal budget to arrange reduced payments to those creditors.

Further information


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