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Difficulty Paying

If you have difficulty paying your Council Tax, there are several options to help reduce payments or get support

I want to spread my payments over 12 months Toggle accordion

If you feel your Council Tax instalments are too high you can spread them over 12 months rather than the usual 10.

Please note that if we have passed 1st April you will only get the remaining months available to pay. 12 months can only be given at the beginning of any financial year.

If you wish to pay your bill over 12 months please use the 12 instalments button below.

Please quote your <Council Tax Account number> in brackets in the subject line of your e-mail, like this <60594851> as this will allow us to deal with this matter more quickly. Please also put your full name and address in the body of the e-mail.  

Request 12 instalments

If you pay your bill by direct debit you can also spread your bill over 12 instalments via your MyStAlbans Account

Log in to MyStAlbans

Can I apply for Council Tax Support? Toggle accordion

If you or your partner are on a low income you may be able to claim Council Tax Support to reduce the Council Tax you pay. Council Tax Support is based on your financial circumstances. This is not the same as a Council Tax Discount which you may be entitled to if, for example, you live at a property on your own.

How much Council Tax Support you might get depends on your income and savings. You will not normally get Council Tax Support if you or your partner have savings of more than £16,000 (unless you also get Guaranteed Pension Credit or you are only claiming Second Adult Rebate – see below).

You might be able to get help if:

  • You get a state benefit such as Universal Credit, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit, or you are disabled and have a low income.

  • You work part-time or full time but are on a low wage or you pay child care costs.

  • There is someone else living in your house who is not your partner and who is on a low income or in receipt of State Benefits. This is called ‘Second Adult Rebate’.

  • Council Tax Support normally only starts from the Monday after you make a claim, so it is important you claim straight away if you think you might be entitled.

To find out whether you might be entitled to help, please use this online Benefit calculator below.

Benefits Calculator

To make a claim for Council Tax Support, please use this online Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction form below

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction form

Can I apply for a Discretionary Discount? Toggle accordion

If you are suffering hardship and have exceptional or unusual circumstances we may be able to reduce the Council Tax you are expected to pay through a Discretionary Discount award, which is sometimes called a Section 13A award.

To apply you must review our discretionary award policy, which lists the sort of things we take into account when considering an award. We would normally ask that you first make an application for Council Tax Support to work out whether you qualify for assistance based on your income before you make an application for Discretionary Discount award. 

Discretionary Award Policy

To apply for a a discretionary discount, please download and complete the application form

Discretionary Discount Application Form

One complete, return it to our offices at:

Council Tax Department
St Albans City & District Council
Civic Center Offices
St Peters' Street
St Albans

I have received a reminder about unpaid Council Tax. What do I do? Toggle accordion

Your Council Tax instalments are due on the dates specified on your Council Tax bill. If you are late in making payments or don’t pay on the due dates it is likely you will receive a written reminder from the Council.

Council Tax is normally due on the 1st of the month. If you pay by direct debit you can choose to pay on the 15th of the month. You can request this via your MyStAlbans account.

Even if you are paid at the end of the month you need to make sure your Council Tax is paid on the 1st of month as per your bill. If you are paid at the end of the month we advise you to pay your April instalment at the end of March, May at the end of April etc. This way you won’t receive a reminder.

It is very important you bring your Council Tax up to date by paying the amount specified on the reminder. If you don’t bring your account up to date, you will face further recovery action, which could mean you will be charged £82 for recovery costs.

If you are paying your Council Tax over 10 months from April to January, once you have brought your account up to date you can ask for instalments to be spread out until the following March. This might help reduce the monthly instalments you are expected to pay.

I’ve received a summons. What do I do? Toggle accordion

If you have received a summons for Council Tax arrears, please note you are not required to attend the Court Hearing.

A liability hearing is a legal process where we ask the Magistrates’ Court to confirm that your Council Tax has not been paid as per the demand notice originally issued. It is a bulk application, normally involving several hundred charge payers.

A liability order is not County Court Judgement (CCJ), it will not affect your credit rating. If you do not attend Court we will obtain the liability order but your name and address will not be read out in Court.

Although you can attend Court, there are very limited defences to a liability order which the magistrates can consider. If you are considering attending Court please read the summons letter very carefully. You may also want to take independent advice from someone like Citizens Advice.

You should pay the amount on the summons document in full, including any costs, online at or by ringing 01614 853880. Paying the Council Tax in full including any costs will prevent the matter proceeding to Court.

If you cannot afford to pay in full, there is an instalment plan included with the summons you have received. This is called a Special Arrangement. As long as you keep to this plan and pay the amounts due on the specified dates, we will obtain the liability order but no further recovery action be taken in respect of this debt. 

If you cannot afford to pay the instalment plan as detailed in the summons document and we don’t receive your payment, you will be automatically sent a financial questionnaire. This must be completed and returned to us. This questionnaire is your opportunity to tell us what you can afford to pay based on your current circumstances.

I’ve been contacted by a Bailiff about Council Tax arrears. What do I do? Toggle accordion

As a last resort, where we have obtained a liability order, we may pass Council Tax debt to an Enforcement Agent (Bailiff) to recover payment on our behalf. This would normally only happen where you have not kept to the special arrangement in the summons documentation, and you have not contacted us about this.  

If the debt has been passed to an Enforcement Agent, you need to speak directly to the Enforcement Agency to make payment or make an arrangement. You cannot deal with the Council anymore. The Enforcement Agency will collect payments from you and pass them to the Council.

If you speak to the Enforcement Agent, they should be able to arrange a repayment plan which you will find affordable. If you are vulnerable, they will take this into account. However, Enforcement Agents are entitled to charge you additional costs related to recovery. These costs are set by Government. If you don’t engage with a bailiff when they first contact you, they may visit you at your home. If they visit you, this will increase the costs you need to pay them.

Further advice Toggle accordion

Independent Advice on Benefits, Debt and Budgeting is available from Citizens Advice.

Citizens Advice