Sharon McDougall - Updated - 7th August 2023 - 2 minutes to read
If you are a resident of Scotland and you have fallen behind on making council tax payments it is important to act quickly to prevent the situation escalating. Council tax is obligatory to pay and whilst you will not be sentenced to time in prison for failure to pay the consequences for not doing so are nonetheless very serious.
With the cost of living crisis, high energy bills, soaring inflation, rising interest rates and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting many people there are thousands of individuals struggling to stay up to date with their council tax payments. For many people their income has stagnated or even decreased, whilst their monthly costs have increased significantly, meaning that they have more money going out than coming in each month.
Many people who are in council tax arrears have more than £1000 of debt due for repayment to their local council. If you are in this situation or you are concerned that you could get behind on paying your council tax it is vital to act quickly.
Here at Scotland Debt Solutions we have more than two decades of experience in assisting people to get out of council tax arrears. We help them to manage their council tax debt, to liaise with their local council to make a reasonable repayment plan and to ensure that the situation remains manageable.
Council Tax should be prioritised as part of your monthly or yearly budgeting plans, as the payment is made in monthly instalments or paid in a lump sum annually at the beginning of the year. You may also be able to get a reduction to your Council Tax bill if you receive certain state benefits, if you earn below a certain threshold, or if you live alone.
If you do get behind with Council Tax payments your local council has the legal right to take enforcement action against you. Different local councils approach things in different ways but in most cases the procedure is as follows:
First strike: If you’ve initially fallen behind on Council Tax payments you should expect to receive a reminder letter from the council to make the payment or payments, otherwise your credit rating could be affected.
Final notice: After the reminder notice you will usually get a subsequent communication from the council in the form of a final notice. This is serious because it might mean that they immediately pursue full settlement of the outstanding amount for the remainder of the current financial year and you lose your entitlement to pay monthly, which can quickly make things far more uncomfortable to deal with. At this stage you could be looking at a bill of several hundred pounds to be paid in a lump sum, which of course could cause a further significant financial burden.
An arrangement to pay up: You may be able to negotiate with the council to pay what is owed over a specific timeframe, but the finance team of the council have the power here and it is entirely at their discretion whether to allow flexibility or not.
Sheriff Officers: In the case that you consistently fall into arrears with council tax debt the local council can hand over your case to what are known as Sheriff Officers (otherwise referred to as bailiffs in some areas of the United Kingdom). Unfortunately, at this stage the Sheriff Officers have the legal right to step up the pressure in order to enforce the Council Tax debt repayment order against you. They may even repossess physical items from your house to settle the debt.
Clearly if things have already reached this state it could be particularly complicated and upsetting for you and your loved ones. Even at this stage of the process Scotland Debt Solutions can step in and help to make a reasonable agreement to resolve the situation smoothly. Contact us at any time for a free consultation on how we can help with your Council Tax problems.
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