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Scottish council tax freeze: the hidden pitfalls of falling behind on payments

Navigating council tax obligations in Scotland amidst rising living costs is increasingly challenging.

Maxine McCreadie
Maxine McCreadie

3rd April 2024


While it’s a relief that most councils in Scotland are freezing their council tax rates, other expenses like water bills are seeing significant hikes, with Scottish Water announcing an increase of 8.8% for 2024/25 charges.

In response, Carrington Dean’s personal finance expert, Maxine McCreadie has shared her advice for those seeking support to manage payments wisely, emphasising proactive engagement with local councils for repayment plans.


Cost of living pushing families to the brink

With the cost of living remaining high, the potential repercussions of falling behind on these payments are stark.

The pressure on households is palpable, with stories emerging of families teetering on the edge due to mounting financial strains. In the midst of rising expenses and a staggering national debt level of £19,145 people across Scotland must exercise caution and manage their finances wisely, especially those in Argyll and Bute and Inverclyde who are facing the only council tax increases across Scotland.

Speaking of the current financial landscape Maxine, said: “If you’re worried about covering the cost of all of your bills, cutting back on council tax payments may seem like a temporary fix, but it can have lasting consequences. It’s so important to seek support if you’re struggling to meet payments.

“If you’re in arrears or concerned about your ability to meet future payments, inform your local council as soon as possible and they may agree to a different repayment plan or spread payments over 12 months, rather than 10.”


How does the rest of the UK compare to Scotland?

Unlike in Scotland, residents in England and Wales face steep council tax increases.

Our handy map shows paints a picture of the state of the nation.



5 council tax payment reminders

Here are five key points to consider when dealing with council tax bills:

Two warnings: If you don’t pay council tax, your local council will typically give you the benefit of the doubt. They will send a reminder giving you seven days to make the missed payment. Councils only send a maximum of two reminder notices in a financial year, so if you have another late or missed payment, you will be sent a final notice ordering you to pay the whole year’s council tax within seven days.

Sheriff Officer involvement: Non-payment of council tax can lead to the involvement of sheriff officers, who may visit individuals’ homes to recover the outstanding amounts. This can be an intimidating and distressing experience, exacerbating the emotional toll on those already facing financial challenges.

Increased debt: Unpaid council tax doesn’t simply disappear. In fact, local authorities may pursue legal action to recover the outstanding amounts for six years, leading to increased debt through additional court fees and interest charges.

Negative impact on credit scores: Defaulting on council tax payments can have long-lasting effects on individuals’ credit scores, making it difficult to secure loans or credit in the future.

Potential court proceedings: Persistent non-payment may escalate to court proceedings, adding legal expenses to the mounting financial burden and potentially resulting in more severe consequences. In very extreme cases, it could even result in prison.

Staying on top of council tax payments is crucial for financial stability. Seeking assistance and exploring available support options can help individuals navigate through challenging times and avoid the hidden pitfalls of council tax debts.


Maxine McCreadie
Maxine McCreadie

Maxine is an experienced writer, specialising in personal insolvency. With a wealth of experience in the finance industry, she has written extensively on the subject of Individual Voluntary Arrangements, Protected Trust Deed's, and various other debt solutions.

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Our debt experts continually monitor the personal finance and debt industry, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

April 3 2024

Written by
Maxine McCreadie

Edited by
Ben McCormack

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