Council Tax Enforcement FAQ's


What happens if I don't turn up for a Means Enquiry Summons Hearing?

The Council will apply for a Warrant with Bail. This will then be given to the Enforcement Agent or local Police who will then bail you to attend on a future date.

What happens after the Means Enquiry Summons Hearing?

It is the Court's decision as to whether they find 'Wilful Refusal' (your refusal to pay) or 'Culpable Neglect' (you had the means to but did not pay)

If the Justices find one of these they are empowered to make a custodial sentence.

What happens at Court when I attend for a Means Enquiry Summons Hearing?

There are normally three Magistrates and one Legal Advisor. The Prosecutor for the Council will explain to the Justices how the debt arose, the period it covers and detail any payments made. The Court will then require you to explain why you didn't pay.

What is a Means Enquiry Summons?

It is an enquiry into your means at the time the debt arose - to see if you had funds available for Council Tax but either wilfully or culpably neglected to pay.

What is a Liability Order?

A Liability Order legally allows the Authority to recover Council Tax from an individual by various methods. These include:

  1. Deductions from your Earnings or Benefits, this is known as an Attachment.
  2. Enforcement Agent action.
  3. A Charging Order (settlement from the sale of) placed on your property.
  4. Committal to Prison.

We may also consider the instigation of Bankruptcy proceedings.

I have lots of debts - I can't pay them all.

Any charge placed on you home - a mortgage or secured loan, fines, payment to CSA and Council Tax are preferential debts. Any unsecured loan or HP payment should not take priority over these. You may need to renegotiate your payments with the unsecured creditors to increase your offer of payment to us. Council Tax is the only debt you could end up going to prison for not paying.

If you would like to discuss the possibilities regarding a repayment arrangement you can visit our offices st Kiln Road, Benfleet where you can see one of our officers who will be happy to help you.

We are open to the public between 9am and 5.15pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4.45pm on a Friday.

Further free debt advice is available from:

The Citizens' Advice Bureau at;

Peabody (formerly Family Mosaic) by telephoning 01268 498500 or visiting

Stepchange at

What happens at Court regarding my Summons/Liability Order Hearing?

The Magistrates are asked to grant a Liability Order as the amount shown as due on the Summons has not been paid.

I didn't receive a Final Reminder; does that mean the Summons is wrong?

No. Our system produces a Final reminder prior to a Summons. The Council are required to present proof in Court that documents have been despatched as required in the regulations. The Justices accept the proof of postage provided. We have to assume that if a document is not returned by the Royal Mail endorsed 'gone away' etc. that it has been delivered correctly.

If I bring my instalments up to date do I still need to pay the Summons costs?

The issue of a Summons cancels your right to pay by instalments, the whole amount becomes immediately due and costs are automatically incurred.

You will need to consider how you propose to pay the amount. The Council may enter into a special payment arrangement with you, which then allows you to pay by a special instalments scheme. This will include costs of £97.00.

An Income and Expenditure form.pdf [pdf] 17KB  needs to be completed and sent to us before an arrangement can be considered.

I have received a Summons but the person on the Summons has moved.

If you know their forwarding address, please supply us with this new address by e-mailing us on or by telephoning 01268 882298. Please then return the document to us marked 'no longer at this address'.

Do I get a CCJ (County Court Judgement) following a Council Tax Summons?

No. The Council Tax Summons does not lead to a CCJ.

Do I need to attend Court following a Council Tax Summons?

If you agree the balance on the Summons is correct, but you are unable to pay the amount in full there is no need to attend Court - we may be able to come to a repayment arrangement. Please note however, if you dispute the Summons we would advise you to attend Court to represent your own views.