From 1st April 2023, Council Tax in Plymouth will be increasing by 4.99%. Following the Council Tax rebate in 2022, there will be no further government £150 payments in 2023/24.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Citizens Advice Plymouth have reported a decrease in Council Tax collection issues raised by Plymouth residents. There are several factors that might have contributed to this decrease, such as the closure of face-to-face services, governmental support in the form of Council Tax rebates and additional Council Tax support, and reduced debt advice provision at Citizens Advice Plymouth. However, we are reporting a trend of increasing enquiries related to Council Tax debt.
We want to raise awareness of the importance of paying Council Tax and the consequences of not paying.
Everything you need to know
What is Council Tax and what is it used for?
Council Tax is the yearly tax set and collected by local councils. The amount you pay is based on the size and location of your home.
Your payments will be used for a variety of services run by the council, including:
- adult and children’s social care
- bin collections
- emergency services
It is a priority debt. This means there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay. We have advice that can help you work out which debts you should pay first.
Who pays Council Tax?
Normally, one person (known as the ‘liable’ person), who is 18 or older, is responsible for paying Council Tax. Couples living together and tenants who have a joint tenancy are jointly responsible for paying Council Tax. A joint tenancy means a tenancy that is in more than one person’s name.
How is Council Tax paid?
There are different ways to pay your Council Tax in Plymouth:
- By Direct Debit
- By phone
- Internet, telephone banking and standing orders
- In person
Visit the Plymouth City Council website to find out more about the different ways you can pay, and how to set up your payment.
How do Council Tax payments work?
They are normally paid in 10 or 12 instalments, or one payment each month over the financial year. However, you might be able to make an arrangement with the Council to pay weekly or fortnightly.
Council Tax support for low income households
You might be able to pay less Council Tax depending on your circumstances. To claim support, you will need to be legally responsible for Council Tax in your household. Help might include:
- discounts – for example, for a single person or an empty property
- Council Tax Reduction (CTR) if you have low income
- a different reduction if you can’t get much CTR
Visit the Plymouth City Council website to find out how to apply for Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called ‘Council Tax Support’).
If you don’t have enough money to pay your next Council Tax
If you think you are going to miss a payment, contact the council as soon as you can to let them know you won’t be able to pay. You might be able to agree a payment arrangement with the council or receive other support to help you pay your bill.
- Find out if you could be getting any extra benefits or discretionary funds
- Get help to manage your debts
- Get budgeting advice
What happens if you miss a payment
If you miss a payment, you will be in Council Tax arrears. This means you owe money to the council.
Unfortunately, Council Tax is an automated process. This means that if you miss a payment, you will automatically receive a letter from the council reminding you to make your payment. If you don’t pay within 7 days of the reminder (or if it’s the third time you’ve been late with council tax payments this year), the council will send you a ‘final notice’.
The final notice will tell you to pay all of your council tax for the rest of the year within 7 days.
What would happen if you don’t pay?
Not paying your Council Tax can have big consequences:
- Repayments may be taken from your benefit payments so you have less income
- Additional costs might be added to your account
- You could be taken to court
- If you don’t have good reasons not to pay your Council Tax and you refuse to do so, the court could send you to prison for 3 months.
That’s why it’s really important to contact the council as soon as you think you might not be able to pay your Council Tax. If you have missed a payment, make sure you contact the council to discuss next steps as soon as you can.
We would also encourage anyone dealing with Council Tax arrears to contact us for advice on how to increase your income and manage your bills and debts.
Alternatively, you can visit the Citizens Advice website for our advice if you are dealing with Council Tax arrears.
Council Tax Collection Process – How it works
Protect yourself from Council Tax Scams
Every year people report Council Tax scams. You might get a call or email telling you that you are entitled to a Council Tax refund or reduction which will be applied after you have made an initial payment to them. Councils will never call you or email you to ask for your bank details or ask you for money because of a Council Tax overpayment.
There is more information and advice about scams on our website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/get-help-with-online-scams/