Council tax is a concern for households up and down the country but what do you do if you can't afford to pay?

The local charge covers the local services that councils offer like schools, refuse collection, libraries and more.

As Brits grapple with the cost of living crisis, many households might be worrying about how they can make their council tax payments.

"Unlike food, insurance or energy bills, individuals cannot mitigate the rise in council tax through cost-saving measures, or switching providers - they’re simply told to pay more and that’s the end of the matter," according to the founder of the financial comparison website, Michael Foote.

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Mr Foote added: "“Your council tax bill is what’s known as a priority debt, which means you should prioritise paying it before any other debts you may have.

"If you’re struggling to pay your council tax, the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand and miss a payment.

"Pick up the phone and speak to your local council if you can’t afford to pay - they will be able to advise you what to do.” 

What should I do if I can't afford my council tax?

Council tax arrears are considered a priority debt, which means you should prioritise paying your council tax before your other debts. 

If you've missed a council tax payment, contact your local council as soon as possible - don’t wait for them to contact you.

Speak with someone to explain your situation because they may be able to provide guidance or direct you towards a free debt adviser.

Are there payment options for council tax?

The expert advised that, depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible to pay a reduced amount of council tax.

For example, low-income individuals may qualify for reductions in their council tax bill, so it’s important to research if you can get a discount.

What to do if you have difficulty paying your council tax

If you're struggling to pay, Mr Foote recommended that you speak to your local council as he urged Brits to not stop paying without letting them know.

He added: "Ask about the possibility of paying in smaller instalments, committing to regular payments you can afford.

"Inform your council if your essential costs like your rent or your mortgage will be affected by council tax payments".

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What are the consequences of not paying your council tax?

The expert reminded households that missing a council tax payment triggers a reminder from the council.

This is typically sent within two weeks.

If you fail to pay within seven days of the reminder, this may lead to a final notice which will demand payment for the remainder of the year.

Mr Foote went on to say: "Continued non-payment may result in the council seeking a liability order through the courts, leading to enforcement actions such as bailiffs, wage deductions, or legal measures like bankruptcy".