Help If You're Struggling To Pay Council Tax


Council Tax is a priority debt you must pay, as the consequences of falling behind can be worse than with other debts. If you’re worried about paying it, it’s important to have a plan.

What help is available?

Every council has a scheme to help you manage your payments so contact your local council as soon as possible. If you wait until you’ve missed payments, it might limit the help they can offer you.

When you contact them, explain your situation and see if it’s possible to work out a new payment plan before you fall behind. For example, you might have had an income setback because of coronavirus.

Here are some examples of support that might be offered:

  • Bill reductions if you’re on benefits – if your income drops or you find yourself out of work you can apply for Council Tax reduction discounts. These might be up to 100% off your Council Tax if you’re on certain benefits or a low income, but this depends on your local council. Everyone can apply, but not everyone is entitled. There are also exemptions for those with serious mental health conditions, but the eligibility might differ depending on the local authority that you live in. 
  • Extra help – because of coronavirus, this year the government has funded an extra £150 discount for people who qualify for Council Tax reductions. This will automatically apply to new claims, while existing claimants should have already received a new Council Tax bill to reflect this.

What happens if my financial situation gets worse?

As with many others, even if your finances are on track now, you could be affected over the coming months because of coronavirus. This might mean an uncertain future, especially if your income is affected – perhaps being on furlough, or you’re self-employed and have a fluctuating income.

You might need to review your finances so that you can cover your repayments. It’s useful to make a budget. If you have a little more going out than coming in, you may be able to rework how you’re spending your money.

Next steps if you have missed a payment

If you’ve already missed Council Tax payment, this means you’re in ‘arrears’. Contact your council as soon as possible to let them know that your income has changed, and that you’re struggling to cover your bills.

As well as coming to an arrangement on the money you owe them, you should also talk about future bills – especially if you think you may struggle to pay them. Make a budget, work out what money you have left after it, and ask the council for help.

When to get debt advice

If you’ve missed a payment, think you’re going to miss a payment or are juggling other debts and feel you need debt advice it’s important you pay them off in the right order as some are more urgent and some lenders have more power than others.

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