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Steps we take to recover unpaid Council Tax

If you are having problems paying please get in touch so we can help you. If you don't get in touch these are the steps we take to recover any unpaid Council Tax.


If you miss a Council Tax instalment we will send you a reminder notice. The notice gives you 14 days to bring your payments up to date. If you bring your account up to date you may continue to pay by instalments.

If you fall behind a second time, you will receive another reminder notice giving you 14 days to bring your account up to date. If you bring your account up to date you may continue to pay by instalments.

The regulations only allow for two reminders each year. If you have brought your account up to date after the first and second reminders but then fall behind again we will issue a final notice.

Final notice

If we issue a final notice you will need to pay the whole amount of Council Tax outstanding on your bill. You will lose the right to pay by instalments. The final notice will give you 14 days to pay the outstanding balance in full.

We can also issue a final notice if all outstanding instalments have become due. For example, if you have not paid the final instalment shown on your bill, we will issue a final notice without having sent any previous reminders.

Court summons

If you do not pay a reminder notice or a final notice we will send you a court summons. The summons will tell you the date and time of the hearing at the Magistrates Court. At the hearing we will ask the Magistrates to award us a Liability Order with £85 costs. These costs will be added to your bill.

Liability order

If the court grants a liability order, it allows the council to use a variety of options to collect what is due.

Collect what you owe

The steps we can take include:

  • Request information: You must tell us about your employment and income details. It is a criminal offence not to tell us.
  • Use of an enforcement agent (formerly known as a bailiff): If we ask an enforcement agent to collect what you owe you will incur more costs. An enforcement agent may remove your belongings to sell at auction to pay your Council Tax.
  • Attachment of earnings order: A percentage of your earnings can be taken from your wage and given to the council. The percentages are set by central government. Find out the amount it could be in the attachment of earnings deductions table. 
  • Attachment of benefits order: Money can be taken from your benefit (for example Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit) and passed to the council.

  • Bankruptcy: If you owe Council Tax of over £5000 we can make you bankrupt. 

  • Charging order: If you own your home and owe over £1000 the County Court can make a Charging Order and we could force a sale to collect the Council Tax due.

  • Prison: In some circumstances, you could receive a prison sentence of up to three months for not paying your Council Tax. 

Gov.UK pay Council Tax arrears (opens new window) provides further information and advice about the recovery process.

Debt Recovery and Vulnerability Pilot Scheme

Gateshead Council is taking part in a 'Debt Recovery and Vulnerability' pilot scheme under the Digital Economy Act 2017. If you have a Council Tax debt, your name, address and identification information may be shared with the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs to help us identify financial vulnerability and recover Council Tax debts more effectively (for example deducting money from your wages). 

Governance documents

Business case (PDF) [260KB] (opens new window)
Data Protection Impact Assessment (PDF) [327KB] (opens new window)
Process Map (PDF) [64KB] (opens new window)

Contact us

Council Tax
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 3600

Monday to Thursday 8.45am to 5pm
Friday 8.45am to 4.30pm

Contact Council Tax