Step 3 Dealing with your priority debts

​Council tax

The amount of council tax you pay is based on:

  • the value of your home (homes are placed in a band – A to H);
  • the number of adults who live in your home and their status; and
  • the amount of Council Tax Reduction that you get from your local council.

Who pays what?

  • Only people over 18 can be made to pay the bill. If there is more than one person over 18 living in your home, the owner will normally have to pay the bill if they live in the home. Joint tenants and owners may have to pay, even if their names are not on the bill. If you are either married, living with your partner, or living together in a same-sex civil partnership, both you and your partner will be responsible for paying the bill.
  • Sometimes the owner of a property will be responsible for the bill even if they don’t live there, for example, if a property is unoccupied. If you are not sure who is responsible for the bill, contact us for advice.

Can I reduce my bill?

You may get a reduction if someone living in the house has a disability. Apply to the council for this. Only some properties will qualify. Contact a local welfare rights agency or contact us for advice.

You will also get a discount in the following circumstances.

  • If you are the only adult in the house.
  • Or, if you share your house only with people who are not taken into account, such as:

     - a full-time student or student nurse;

     - an apprentice or someone on a youth-training scheme (only certain ones apply); or

     - someone with a mental disability who is getting certain disability benefits.

Tell the council if you think you may qualify for a discount. Check how this works with your local council.

You may be able to claim a rebate called ‘Second Adult Rebate’. Check how this works with your local council.

Scottish Government support for council tax

From April 2013, the way that you can get help with your council tax has changed. Ask your local council how this works.

You may be able to claim a rebate called 'Second Adult Rebate'. Ask your local council how this works.

What happens if I don’t pay?

The council will usually tell you to pay your bill in 10 monthly instalments but they may accept weekly payments. If you find that you can’t pay the full monthly instalment, don’t just stop paying!

  • If your circumstances have changed, you may now qualify for help with paying your council tax bill from your local council. Contact us for advice.
  • Keep paying what you can afford.
  • Contact the council and try to come to an arrangement. Use Your budget to help explain your situation.

If you don’t keep to any payment arrangement you make with the council, they may apply to the sheriff court to make a ‘summary warrant’ for the full amount they say you owe. The court will also add a charge equal to 10% of the amount you owe. The order will state that you are due to pay your council tax and have not done so.

Summary warrants and priority debts

Further action against you by the council

Once the council have got a summary warrant, they may try to take further action against you. There are a number of ways the council can try to make you pay, such as freezing money in your bank account or taking regular deductions from your wages if you are employed. This is called ‘diligence’. It is important that you understand your rights and the types of diligence that the council can use.

Summary warrants and priority debts

See our fact sheet: 

Council tax recovery.


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