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According to the same StepChange report, individuals with council tax arrears owe an average of over £1,000 on this debt alone. Not only this, but those struggling to pay their council tax are also more likely to be in a budget deficit – meaning they have more money going out than they have coming in.
For over 25 years, we’ve helped thousands of people across Scotland, giving them expert debt help and advice with their council tax arrears; not only enabling them to lead a debt-free future but also maintain a roof over their heads. Here, we discuss council tax debts and what your next steps should be if you have fallen behind.
Council Tax is not an optional payment; it is mandatory and due monthly or in one lump sum at the start of the year. If you fall behind with payments, you can quickly find yourself under pressure from your local council and, as time goes by, your debt will be passed onto sheriff officers who can make life feel increasingly uncomfortable.
It is vitally important that you make paying your council tax a priority when budgeting for the month. While you cannot be sent to prison for not paying your council tax in Scotland, you should still seek expert help and advice if you are struggling to pay.
If you are struggling with mounting council tax debt in Scotland, you’re likely to receive a ‘reminder’ letter which is effectively your ‘first strike’. It is a warning from the council that you’ve missed a payment and at this stage, your credit rating could already be affected.
What follows the reminder letter is known as a ‘final notice’ which is a serious action taken by the council. At this stage, you will no longer be entitled to pay in instalments and payment in full, plus outstanding debts, will be demanded up front. Losing your right to pay in monthly instalments is when things can become even more problematic. The council will demand that you pay the entire remaining amount of council tax for the financial year (April-March) in one lump sum payment. If you are struggling to keep up with your monthly payments, then being faced with one huge bill of several hundred pounds is likely to push you further into financial difficulty.
You may be able to come to an agreement with the council but it’s important to call them and explain the situation you’re in. It can be possible to reach an arrangement with the council’s finance department to spread the payments of money you owe over an extended period of time but this is at their discretion. The very worst thing you can do at this stage is ignore the problems you are facing. It is only by opening up communication channels with the council that you can hope to reach an agreement over a reasonable and affordable repayment plan.
If you continually fall behind with your council tax, the council will ultimately pass your case onto local sheriff officers (also known as bailiffs in other parts of the UK). Sheriff Officers have the right to repossess items from your property to and enforce court orders against you.
At this stage, things can get very complex and very damaging for you personally. It goes without saying that you should aim to contact us for help and advice before this stage, but even if your situation has got to the point where you are facing sheriff officer action at present, there are still ways we can help you.
From Angus Council, through to West Lothian Council, the team at Scotland Debt Solutions are able to help with your council tax arrears. We have extensive experience helping with council tax arrears from large city councils such as Aberdeen City Council, City of Edinburgh Council, Glasgow City Council and Dundee City Council, as well as those councils covering county areas including Renfrewshire Council and East Renfrewshire Council, Aberdeenshire Council, North Ayshire, South Ayrshire, and East Ayrshire Council, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Council, and East Dumbartonshire and West Dumbartonshire Council.
As council tax arrears are an extremely serious debt to have, it is important to confront the problem head on and not bury your head in the sand. No matter whereabouts in Scotland you are based, we can help. So regardless of whether you have council tax arrears to Scottish Borders Council, or you are located at the opposite end of the country and owe money to The Highland Council, Orkney Island Council, Shetland Islands Council, or Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the help and advice you will receive is the same.
All councils have the right to take enforcement action against those with council tax arrears, however, each council will approach things in their own way. How Agyll and Bute Council may deal with arrears, may be different to the approach Dumfries and Galloway may take for example, which again may not be exactly the same as the steps Fife Council, Stirling Council, or Falkirk Council may take against those with arrears.
At Scotland Debt Solutions we have worked with councils across Scotland including The Moray Council, Clackmannanshire Council, East Lothian Council, Midlothian Council, Perth and Kinross Council, and Inverclyde Council to help residents get on top of their council tax debts.
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