Dealing with your priority debts

Deductions from benefits

It is never too late to start negotiating with the council. Send them your budget summary and make an offer of payment that you have worked out you can afford using our guidelines in these steps. If you receive benefits and have a liability order, you can ask the DWP to take a standard amount each week from your Income Support, Pension Credit, income-related or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based or contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit to pay for your council tax arrears. If they agree to do this, the council should not take any further action while the money is being taken direct from your benefit. The council can also ask for deductions to be taken from your benefits once they have been to court for a summary warrant.

Summary warrants and priority debts 

Council tax and bankruptcy

If your council tax debt is at least £3,000, some councils may try and make you bankrupt. Your council might start the process by sending you a charge for payment. However, sometimes they will use a court form called a statutory demand.

Applying for time to pay your council tax debt

You may be able to stop the council from making you bankrupt.

If your council has not yet applied to make you bankrupt, you could apply for a time to pay order or apply to join the Debt Arrangement Scheme.

If the council has already applied to make you bankrupt, you could still apply to join the Debt Arrangement Scheme. However, it will be too late to ask the court for a time to pay order.

The Debt Arrangement Scheme


You may be able to complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman if the council has not behaved properly or not followed the proper procedures. You will need to complain to your local council first.