Get help if you have problems paying your Council Tax
If you are having concerns about paying your Council Tax during this difficult period, we would be grateful if you consider the following options:
- Check what benefits you may be entitled to.
- If you have applied for Universal Credit or have a low income, then you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction. This is a means-tested discount based on you and your partner's income and household composition. To qualify for this support, your saving must be below £16,000. You can apply online.
- The government is providing a hardship fund to provide residents with additional help towards the cost of their Council Tax. This funding is primarily intended to support existing working-age claimants in receipt of Council Tax Reduction. If you are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, an award will be automatically applied to your Council Tax account shortly.
- If you are experiencing problems with paying your Council Tax instalment this month, and pay by Direct Debit, please contact us on 01744 675255 and we will look to re-profile your instalments over the rest of the year.
If you are having problems paying your Council Tax, don't ignore the problem. Contact us immediately on 01744 675255 or, if you have outstanding debts that have been subject to a court summons, please telephone 01744 675285 for the recovery section who will be dealing with your account.
Arrangements for payment may be made at any stage of the recovery process. You may be required to let us know details of your income and expenditure, which will help us decide on a payment arrangement you can afford. Remember, don't ignore the problem - if you do, you may incur further costs in the future.
Should you wish for us to consider an alternative repayment plan, you may be required to submit details of your income and expenditure.
If you have outstanding debts including Council Tax, please do not ignore the problem. Free, independent advice is available from various organisations such as:
- Citizens Advice St Helens - 0808 278 7985
- Citizens Advice St Helens (Local Money Advice Team) - 01744 751380
- Money Advice Service - 0800 138 7777
- National Debtline - 0808 808 4000
- StepChange - 0800 138 1111
What happens if you don't pay?
The government have passed regulations outlining what action councils must take in order to legally recover any Council Tax arrears.
If your instalment is not paid by the due date, a reminder will be issued for the outstanding instalment. If this is not paid within seven days, you will lose your right to pay by instalment and a court summons will be issued for the full year's balance.
If your account is brought up to date within the seven days, you can continue with your monthly instalments. We are only required to send a maximum of two reminders in any financial year, after which you will automatically lose your right to instalments and be sent a final notice for the full year's balance.
Once you have received a final notice, if you do not pay the full amount or contact us to make an arrangement for payment, you will be issued with a court summons and you will have to pay additional court costs.
Remember, you can still make an arrangement for payment once a summons has been issued.
If you receive a summons and do not pay in full before the court hearing, an application for a liability order will be made to the magistrates' court for the remaining balance. Once a liability order has been granted, the we have the following powers of recovering the debt. We can:
- Apply for deductions to be made directly from your earnings (PDF) [561KB] , Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.
- Apply for you to be made bankrupt.
- Apply to the county court for a charging order if you own the property.
- Apply for you to be committed to prison for a period of up to three months once other recovery methods have been tried.
- Forward the liability order to enforcement agents acting on behalf of the council, who will be empowered to remove your goods if payment is not made (additional charges will be incurred at enforcement stage).