What happens if I don’t pay on time?

Prompt collection means that the Council will spend less on sending reminders and final notices. If the cash is collected promptly the Council benefits from improved cash flow. If you have any problems paying, then please contact us. 

Your Business Rates bill shows you how much you need to pay and when your payments are due. Unless you pay by Direct Debit (where there is a choice of 3 payment dates) monthly instalments will be payable on the first of the month. If you pay by cheque, through the post office or through the bank you should allow extra time for your payment to reach us.

Reminder and Final Notices

If you do not pay instalments when they fall due, you will receive a Reminder notice telling you to bring your account up to date.

If you do not make a payment, the next notice you receive will be a Summons. This is because by paying nothing, the right to pay by monthly instalments is lost and the whole year becomes payable in advance.

If you pay the instalment shown on the Reminder, but then fail to pay the next one you will receive another Reminder notice. If you then fail to pay the next one, you will receive a Final Notice cancelling the instalment facility.

If you are having genuine difficulty in making payments you should contact usstraight away and we will do our best to help you. 

Do not ignore the Reminder notice as if recovery action continues, this may mean you have to pay extra costs. 

Court Summons and Enforcement

Why have I received a Summons? 

If you have not made payments on time in accordance with your latest Business Rates bill, you will be issued with a Court Summons following reminders having been issued. This allows the Council to ask the Court to issue a liability order to recover outstanding Business Rates. 

What should I do now? 

You should pay the amount of Business Rates that you owe in full, including costs as shown on the Summons. If you do this before the date of the court hearing your case will not be heard and the council will not apply for a liability order.  

See how to pay your Business Rates 

If you are unable to make payment in full and wish to make a special payment arrangement, please contact us at hdc-recovery@milton-keynes.gov.uk or telephone 0808 164 8610. 

We will still apply for a liability order, but if you keep to the arrangement you have made, no further action will be taken. 

Do I need to go to the court hearing?

You do not need to attend the court hearing unless you have a legal defence against the issue of a liability order. The magistrates will hear the case whether you attend or not. 

The magistrates can only listen to a valid defence against the issue of a liability order. The defences are:  

  • the property is not entered in the appropriate valuation list  
  • the Business Rates has not been properly set
  • the Business Rates has not been billed in accordance with the legislation  
  • the amount demanded has been paid in full (including summons costs)  
  • more than six years have passed since the balance became due 
  • insolvency proceedings have been started 
  • you are not the person who is liable to pay the Business Rates that you have been summonsed for
  • you are only occupying part of the property for which the summons relates to 

It is not a valid defence against the issue of a liability order, and you do not need to attend court if:  

  • you can’t afford to pay the amount owed in full  
  • you would like time to pay or have difficulty paying  
  • you want to make a payment arrangement
  • you have applied for a Business Rates relief and have not heard anything 
  • you have appealed to the Council or the Valuation Office Agency about the amount of your Business Rates or your property rateable value. 

If you have a valid defence and wish to attend the court hearing you MUST contact the Recovery Department first to arrange an appointment to appear. 

hdc-recovery@milton-keynes.gov.uk or telephone the Council on 0808 164 8610. 

Under the current COVID-19 restrictions you will not be allowed to enter the court building unless you have pre-booked a time slot with the Council first.  This is a safety precaution for you and other court users. 

What is a liability order?

A liability order is a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe, plus costs. It gives the council greater powers to collect the money you owe using a range of actions which include: 

  • asking Enforcement Agents to visit your property and either collect the amount you owe, or if this is not possible, remove items belonging to you and sell them  
  • putting a charging order on your property if you own it, which means we could force sale to pay your Business Rates arrears, or the arrears will be paid out of the amount you get for any future sale  
  • applying to commence insolvency proceedings 
  • applying to the Magistrates Court for your committal to prison 
Enforcement Agents

Enforcement Agents are employed to collect payment or remove goods for sale where appropriate. If the Council instructs the Enforcement Agent, it will cost you significant charges, contacting them early is important to minimise these charges. 


Compliance Stage – £75.00 

Fee is incurred by the debtor when the Council instructs the Enforcement Agents to collect your outstanding debt. 

Enforcement Stage – £235.00 

Fee is incurred by the debtor upon the first visit by the Enforcement Agent. 

Sale/Disposal Stage – £110.00 

Fee is incurred by the debtor upon a further visit with the intention to remove goods for Sale. 

Please note an additional fee of 7.5% will be charged on any balance over £1500.00. 

If you have been contacted by an Enforcement Agent, you will need to deal with them directly. You can find their contact details on our Useful Contacts page. 

Where can I get further help? - Debt Advice

If you are having difficulty paying your Business Rates at any time, please contact us for advice as soon as possible at hdc-recovery@milton-keynes.gov.ukor telephone 0808 164 8610. 

You can also seek independent financial advice by contacting: 


StepChange Debt Charity is a registered charity that offers free, private, debt advice and help. 

The StepChange website 

Phone: 0800 138 1111 

The Money Advice Service 

Call for free and impartial money advice. 

The Money Advice Service website 

Phone: 0800 138 7777 

Citizen Advice Bureau 

Your local bureau can help with a range of issues. These include debt problems and advice if you are facing redundancy. 

The Citizen Advice Bureau website 

Phone: 0344 477 1171 

National Debtline 

National Debtline is a charity. Free and independent advice over the phone and online. 

The National Debtline Website 

Phone: 0808 808 4000