If we have been unable to recover the money that you owe and exhausted all options, we can consider taking enforcement action. We will only use this if necessary, to recover payment.

We want to help you so we don't have to use any of these measures. If you’re struggling to pay your Council Tax, you can contact us for advice on how we can assist you. 

Charging order

If you own your own property and you owe more than £1,000, we can apply for a charging order through the County Court.

This would result in a restriction on your property, and the Land Registry Service would receive notification.

The restriction would remain against the property until we receive full payment of the debt, usually when the property sells.


If you owe more than £5,000, we can consider bankruptcy proceedings against you.

You would get served a statutory demand and have 21 days to either pay the debt in full, or make an arrangement that is acceptable to us.

Failure to do so may result in a petition to the court for your bankruptcy.

If you are bankrupt, an official receiver would investigate your financial affairs and sell any assets to repay your debts.

You can visit the GOV.UK website to find out more about bankruptcy.

Committal to prison

If enforcement agents return the case to us as ‘nulla bona’, we can take the matter back to the Magistrates Court for a committal to prison hearing.

We would first ask the court to issue a warrant of arrest and you would be bailed to attend a specified hearing. This is usually at Chelmsford Magistrates Court.

We would have to prove one of the following:

  • wilful refusal (this means that you have the money but are refusing to pay)
  • culpable neglect (this means that you had the money to pay but chose to spend it on something else. Therefore, you haven't given sufficient priority to your Council Tax liability)

The court will conduct an inquiry into your means at the time the debt became due and your ability to pay now. If the court finds you guilty, they can impose a prison sentence of up to 90 days or suspend the sentence with an order to pay.

If the court doesn't find you guilty, they do have the power to remit the debt.

Before we take any committal to prison action, we would invite you to an appointment at our offices. We would discuss your debt with a view to avoid proceeding with a warrant application.

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