- Check to see if you are entitled to any discounts or exemptions.
- You can request to change the frequency of your instalments.
- If you are having difficulty and need support because you are on a reduced income, you should apply for Universal Credit.
- At the same time, you should apply for Council Tax Support. Find out if you may qualify by using our online calculator. Apply for the Support using our online form.
- If you have not already done so, you can obtain free debt advice from the Money Advice Service.
Income and expenditure
If you’re having difficulty making payments, we will try to accept an offer that is realistic based on your means, however, you will need to complete and return an income and expenditure form, enclosing further documentation to support your current financial circumstances (if applicable) proposing an offer of repayment.
If you have received your annual bill, a reminder or a final notice and are unable to clear your bill within the current financial year, please complete our pre-recovery income and expenditure form. You will also need to provide your last 3 months bank statements, or, evidence that you have sought financial help and are working through a financial plan in order to help you with your current financial circumstances.
If you have received a summons or notice of Liability Order, you will need to complete our post-recovery income and expenditure form. If our Recovery Team subsequently need to ask you for further evidence or information to support your offer of payment, they will contact you directly.
Please ensure you complete the relevant income and expenditure form based on the current circumstances of your Council Tax account.
Alternatively if you wish to discuss your account and the problems you have with making payment, please contact us or visit the Tunbridge Wells Gateway on Grosvenor Road
If you receive two reminders in one financial year and don’t pay the next instalment on time you will lose your right to pay by instalments and will be sent a final notice.
If you receive a reminder and do not pay within seven days you will get a final notice.
A final notice will ask you to pay the whole balance in one lump sum.
If you get a summons you will have to pay extra costs. If you pay the amount you owe in full together with the costs before the court date the hearing will not go ahead.
You can contact us before the hearing, to make a repayment plan. However the hearing will still go ahead and additional costs will be applied for as detailed below.
If you agree to a payment plan you must make the payments on time, otherwise we will have to take further action to collect the debt.
If your case goes to court because you haven’t paid the full amount, the council will apply for a liability order, which will incur extra costs. The liability order means the council can recover the money you owe in a number of different ways.
We will try to accept any offer to repay any amount outstanding. However a liability order will continue to be applied for, which will incur extra costs, as security against you not making the payments.
If you agree to a payment plan you must make the payments on time, otherwise we will have to take further recovery action.
If a liability order has been granted by the magistrates we will send you a letter to tell you.
The letter will request specific information which you must provide by law. It is a criminal offence not to supply this information or to supply information which is false.
The ways we enforce the liability order are:
- an attachment to your earnings or to certain state benefits
- bailiff action
- commencing bankruptcy proceedings
- putting a charge on your property if you own your home
- application for your committal to prison
Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs)
The bailiff, employed by the council, may call at your home to make a list of goods. You should try to make a payment plan with the bailiff. If you fail to keep to the payment plan the bailiff could return later to remove and sell your goods. If bailiff action is taken, you will have to pay additional costs.
If the bailiff calls and you don’t have enough goods which can be removed, the bailiff will return the liability order to the council for further enforcement action.
New enforcement rules came into effect from 6 April 2014. Bailiffs are now called Enforcement Agents.
There will be two fees they are able to charge:
- Compliance fee £75.00. This will be charged by the Enforcement Agents on receipt of a Liability Order from the council.
- Enforcement fee £235.00. This will be applied when the Enforcement Agent has attended the property for the 1st time.
Total fees that will be applied are £310.
If an arrangement is made, the bailiff will take the Compliance Fee of £75 with the first payment.
If the debtor does not respond to the first letter an Enforcement Agency sends, the Enforcement Agent will attend the debtors address to take control of goods. This is when an additional £235 will be payable.
The Enforcement Agent can take control of debtor’s goods if they are located on a highway, or on premises that he has a power to enter. The Enforcement Agent may enter premises without a warrant in order to search for and take control of goods where he believes it is the place where the debtor usually lives or carries on a trade or business.
To avoid having to pay additional costs, please contact the council before your account gets to this stage.
If all other options fail, a summons may be issued for you to attend Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court for a committal hearing.
If the outcome of this hearing considers you should have paid your Council Tax, a warrant of commitment may be issued, which will mean you have to go to prison for up to three months. Again, this will mean you have to pay extra costs.
Money advice service
The Money Advice Service (MAS) offers free and impartial advice.
Work and employment
Information is available on employment and sick pay for those impacted by coronavirus.
More information can be found on the MAS website.
Managing your money
Advice and tips on how to manage your money and outgoings including loans and utility bills can be found on the MAS website.