Advice column My first council tax bill of the year has come through and I know I’m not going to be able to afford it with so many other important bills to pay, let alone food. What should I do? Council tax arrears is a “priority debt”, which means you need to address it before paying off other non-priority loans like credit cards. Once you’ve missed a council tax payment, you’re in “arrears” and so owe money to your council. You should receive a letter from your council - it’s important not to ignore this as after 14 days your council can take you to court and request you pay your entire year’s bill at once. It’s important you speak to the Cheshire West and Chester Council straight away if you don’t think you can pay. Ask to speak to someone in the council tax office and tell them about your situation. You’ll probably be asked to commit to paying a regular amount each month. If you're not sure how much you can afford, use the Citizen Advice budgeting tool or talk to one of our specialist advisers. If you're on a low income, you might be able to get a reduction on your council tax bill. You might also be able to qualify for your council’s Hardship Scheme. You can read more about getting help with your council tax on the Citizens Advice website. If you fail to pay your council tax arrears you’ll have to pay court costs and possibly bailiff fees as well as your debt, which can add hundreds of pounds to your bill. If you’re struggling with multiple debts you can get free confidential advice from Citizens Advice Cheshire West by visiting your local office in Northwich, Chester or Winsford between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday, and in Ellesmere Port between 9am - 2pm Monday to Friday. No appointment is necessary. Or, phone 03445 76 61 11 Monday to Friday 10am-4pm. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date advice, please visit our Citizens Advice public site.