Council Tax Recovery and Financial Support
Remember that paying by direct debit ensures that your payments are made on time every month. You can even apply to pay over 12 months.
If you pay late we will send you a reminder or a final notice. If you do not pay you will lose your right to pay by instalments and this could result in you being summoned to appear in a Magistrates' Court and court costs of £80 may be added to your Council Tax account.
The Council will attend the court to apply for a liability order, which confirms who is liable for the tax. There is no need to attend the court if you have made a payment arrangement with us before the court date, but if you wish to dispute the matter then please contact us first and we may be able to resolve the matter.
Should we be unable to do so then you may wish to attend court, but please note the two valid reasons which the Magistrates would take into account:
- if you have not been billed correctly or
- you can prove the bill has been paid.
If the court decides you are responsible for paying and you have not paid in full, they can issue a liability order. Once a liability order has been granted, and you do not contact us, or we cannot agree how you will pay, the following recovery action may be taken to recover the debt:
- Deductions from your Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, and Job Seekers Allowance or from your wages.
- Asking Enforcement Agents to collect the debt.
- Commencing insolvency proceedings through the High Court.
- Apply to the County Court for a charging order on your property that enables us to force its sale or repay your Council Tax out of the proceeds of any future sale.
If you do not pay we can return to court. The court may decide to send you to prison, order you to pay, or tell us to write off part or all of the debt.
Our Recover Procedure Flowchart [96KB] illustrates the various steps that must be followed by the council.
Financial Support and Benefits
If you get into payment difficulties and you can't afford your instalments, contact us straight away.
We may be able to help you by making a different payment arrangement. Remember that paying by direct debit ensures that your payments are made on time every month. You can even apply to pay over 12 months.
If you are having financial difficulties in paying have you considered or taken up the following options:
Independent debt advice
There are many organisations that offer free advice on ways to maximise your income, manage your debt and how to deal with creditors. If you struggle to discuss your debts with creditors, they will often to speak them on your behalf if you give permission.
You can obtain financial and budgeting advice from the following:
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
Citizens Advice East Herts have offices in Bishop's Stortford, Buntingford, Sawbridgeworth and Ware or you can call 0344 411 1444.
National Debtline is a free, confidential, debt advice service for people in England, Wales and Scotland, run by the charity the Money Advice Trust. You can call them on 0808 808 4000.
Council Tax Support Scheme
The purpose of Council Tax Support is to provide help with Council Tax charges if you are on a low income the amount you may receive will be dependent on if you are on a low income. You can use our online Benefits Claim and Calculator to check if you might be eligible for Council Tax Support.
Council Tax Exemptions and Discounts
There is a wealth of different disregards available, some are based upon the use of a property, whilst others are assessed on the circumstances of the occupiers of the property. Please see the Council Tax main page for links
Exceptional Hardship Scheme
The purpose of this policy is to specify how East Herts & Stevenage Revenues & Benefits shared service will operate the Exceptional Hardship Relief (EHR) scheme and to indicate some of the factors that will be considered when deciding if a EHR can be awarded. Each case will be treated strictly on its merits and all customers will receive equal and fair treatment.
To apply please complete our Exceptional Hardship Relief form