Unable to pay your business rates

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.

If you are unable to pay the Business Rates you should contact the Revenues section on 0300 1234 171 as soon as possible to discuss your personal circumstances. The longer you leave contacting us the bigger your arrears will become and the harder it will be to make a suitable payment arrangement to clear the debt.

On the first occasion you miss an instalment we will commence recovery action.

A number of measures have recently been introduced to assist businesses. More information is available on our rates and reductions and business rate reliefs pages.

Business rates, together with revenue from council tax payers, revenue support grant provided by the Government and certain other sums is used to provide council services. 

Most people pay their business rates at the time it is due. Prompt payment saves money and it also helps to keep taxes down. 

The information below explains briefly what can happen if the business rates is not paid. 

The Recovery Steps

Reminder notice

Cornwall Council will issue a reminder notice on the first occasion you fall behind with your instalment(s).

  • Only one reminder will be issued in any one financial year. If you fall behind with your instalment(s) on a second occasion, the full balance will become due and a final notice will be issued
  • If you do not pay your instalment(s) in full within seven days of receiving a reminder notice, you will lose your right to pay by monthly instalments and we may ask you to pay the full amount you owe for the year
  • If we do not hear from you, you will receive a summons to the Magistrates Court with further costs being added to your account. Unless the summons is served incorrectly, we will not withdraw it
  • At the Magistrates Court (which you have a right to attend) Cornwall Council will apply for a Liability order, which gives us certain powers to collect the debt you owe. If a mutual payment arrangement has not been made at this point, Cornwall Council may pass your debt to one of our Enforcement companies. If you are unable to offer a reasonable payment plan with the Enforcement company, they have the power to collect the debt by taking control of your goods. Cornwall Council also has the power to apply for a bankruptcy/liquidation order or as a last resort making an application for your committal to prison

Enforcement Agent Action

Once we have passed a debt to enforcement agents to collect on our behalf, there are two stages to the process. Initially, there will be a compliance stage and a fee of £75.00 will be added to your account. During the compliance period the enforcement agent company will contact you a number of times with a view to securing payment or arranging a suitable payment plan.

Taking Control of Goods

If you do not pay the debt or agree a suitable payment plan with the enforcement company during the compliance period, they will visit you and at this stage further fees of £235.00 will be added to your account. If your debt with us is greater than £1,500 a further fee of 7.5% will be added on any part of the balance over £1,500. The enforcement agent will visit your property with a view to taking control of sufficient goods to be sold at auction to clear your debt and any additional costs.


The authority may file for a bankruptcy petition with the County Courts for any debt over £5000.00


If the authority is unable (for whatever reason) to collect the debt via distress, attachment of earnings or deductions from benefit then the authority may apply to the Magistrates Court for a means enquiry with a view to the committal to prison of the debtor.

Frequently asked questions

Q.  What happens if I am unable to pay my bill?

A.  On the first occasion you do not pay an instalment by the due date, we will commence recovery action. It is important you contact us as soon as possible regarding your arrears. The longer you leave contacting us the bigger your arrears will become, and the harder it will be to make a suitable recovery arrangement to clear the debt. 

Call us in confidence on 0300 1234 171 or alternatively use the contact details shown on this page.

Q:  What happens if I ignore your reminders?

A:  The next step is for a summons to be issued asking you to appear at the local Magistrates Court.

Q.  I have received a Summons, what should I do?

A.  You should pay the full amount straight away. If the total balance is paid in full (including the summons costs) before the court date, then no further proceedings will take place. If you are unable to pay the full amount before the date of the hearing you should contact the Revenues section to discuss a payment plan. If your proposals are accepted you need not appear before the Magistrates but the Liability Order will be issued in your absence, which will be held by the Council pending payment of the arrangement.

At the hearing the costs incurred by the issue of the summons (if applicable) and additional Liability Order costs will be added to your outstanding balance when the application is made to the Magistrates for the Liability Order.

Q: If I have agreed a payment plan will a Liability Order still be issued?

A:Yes. However, it will not be used if you keep to the agreed payment plan.

Q: Why do I have to pay costs?

A: The council incurs additional expense in preparing and issuing a summons for non-payment, along with the application for the Liability Order.

Q: What is a Liability Order?

A: Liability Order is a statement from the Magistrates Court that you owe an amount of Business Rates and costs. It gives the Council additional powers to enforce the debt.

Q: What powers does a Liability Order give to the Council?

A: If you do not pay the full amount within 7 days of the court hearing or have not made a special payment arrangement, the Council will decide, dependent upon individual circumstances, which method of enforcement is most appropriate in your case.

Q: I've received a letter from an enforcement company, what should I do?

A: If you have received any correspondence from the enforcement company you must contact them immediately (see the contact details below).

Enforcement Company contact details:


Website: Rossendales 
Email: info@rossendales.com

Tel: 0844 7013980
Fax: 01706 831126


Website: Equita
Email: info@equita.co.uk
Tel: 0844 561 8807


Website: Jacobs
Tel: 0845 6012692 (find out about call charges)
Fax: 0151 6504999

Marstons Group

Website: Marston Group
Email: businessrates@marstongroup.co.uk
Tel: 0845 0766262 (find out about call charges)
Fax: 01992 703703

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