Arrears of water and sewerage charges
This information applies to Scotland only.
How arrears are collected
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
- 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 authority about the charges.
Your local authority can use a special procedure to collect water and sewerage debts with council tax debt. If it uses these powers, it has to apply to court first. The authority 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 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 may be the case if you receive the maximum help for paying council tax through the Council Tax Reduction (CTR) 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 Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit. The sum paid to the local authority may be for ongoing costs for water and sewerage as well as arrears. The local authority 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.