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:

  • Payment holidays and payment plans – many councils offer deferrals for those struggling with their 2021/22 Council Tax bill. You’ll need to ask for this. If you can’t get a deferral, most will offer you an affordable payment plan.
  • 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.
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Make sure you’ve claimed everything you’re entitled to

If you’ve had an income shock, you could be entitled to government support. If you’re struggling financially, it’s important that you claim any extra help you can.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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When to get debt advice

If you’ve missed more than one 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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Extra support if you’re struggling financially and with your mental wellbeing

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Having mental health issues might mean that you struggle to make the best money-based decisions for you, as well as act on them.

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Remember, if you’re struggling financially and with your mental wellbeing, it’s worth getting in contact with your bank, building society, lender or whoever you owe money to, to discuss your options.

However, picking up the phone and talking about your problems is often easier said than done when you’re struggling with your mental health.

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Most places that you owe money to have policies about supporting you if you’re vulnerable. But they can’t help you unless you ask.

For some general tips on how you can manage your mental health check out Rethink’s guide It covers everything from setting a budget to getting help if you, or someone you care about, is having a mental health crisis.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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