Arrears of water and sewerage charges
If you owe arrears for using the public supplies of water and/or sewerage at your home, the local authority can use different methods to collect the debt:
- collecting water and sewerage debt with council tax debt
- third party deductions from your benefits (including a process called Water Direct)
If you don't think you are due to pay the arrears or charges you can appeal to the local authority about the charges.
- More about how to appeal about a decision made by the local authority about water or sewerage charges
Your local authority can use a special procedure to collect water and sewerage debts along with council tax debt. If it uses these powers it has to apply to court first. It can add extra charges to the amount owed to cover the costs of collecting the debt. It means that this debt has to be treated as a priority debt.
Debt is only for water and sewerage charges
It is possible that you may only have arrears of water and sewerage charges because you do not have to pay council tax. These can still be collected with a special procedure so should be treated as a priority debt. This may be the case if you receive the maximum help for paying council tax through the Council Tax Reduction scheme.
A local authority can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to pay some of your benefit directly to the local authority for council tax arrears and water and sewerage arrears. It can do this if you receive Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. The sum paid to the local authority may be for ongoing costs for water and sewerage as well as arrears. The local authority does not 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 - where to get advice.
If you have a number of debts and you are not sure how to deal with them or what to do first, read our advice on this website about debt.