Arrears of water and sewerage charges

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

Your council tax bill will show the cost of water and sewerage.

If you're told that you owe arrears of water and sewerage as part of your council tax, you should check first if the bill is correct and if you're entitled to any help with paying for water and sewerage.

How arrears are collected

If you owe arrears for using the public supplies of water and/or sewerage at your home, the local council can use different methods to collect the debt:

  • collecting water and sewerage debt with council tax debt

  • making third-party deductions from your benefits.

If you don't think you're due to pay the arrears or charges, you can appeal to the local council about the charges.

Collecting water and sewerage debt with council tax debt

Your local council can use a special procedure to collect unmetered water and sewerage debts with council tax debt. If it uses these powers, it has to apply to court first. 

The council can add extra charges to the amount owed to cover the costs of collecting the debt. This means that this debt has to be treated as a priority debt.

Debt is for water with a metered supply

If you have arrears for charges for your supply of water to your home that is provided through a meter you have to get in touch with Scottish Water.

Debt is only for water and sewerage charges

It's possible that you only have arrears of water and sewerage charges because you don't have to pay council tax. 

These charges can still be collected with a special procedure, so they should be treated as a priority debt. 

This might be the case if you receive the maximum help for paying council tax through the Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme.

Third-party deductions

A local council can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to pay some of your benefit directly to the local council for council tax arrears and water and sewerage arrears. 

It can do this if you receive Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit. 

The sum paid to the local council might be for ongoing costs for water and sewerage as well as arrears. The local council doesn't have to ask a court for permission to do this.

If you want to challenge a decision that the DWP has made about a deduction from your benefit for water and sewerage charges, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau. Find out where to get advice.

Get help with debt

If you have a number of debts and you're not sure how to deal with them or what to do first, you can read our advice on help with debt.