Paying for water and sewerage in Scotland
This information applies to Scotland only.
Who supplies your water
Most households in Scotland are provided with water from the public supply by Scottish Water.
You may have a private source and therefore a private water supply, for example if you live permanently in a mobile home. If you have a private water supply, you don't have to pay Scottish Water for it but there are some rules you must follow.
Paying for water from the public supply
Non-metered water supply
If your home is connected to the public water supply and you don't have a water meter, you'll pay for your water with your council tax.
When you get your council tax bill for the year, it will show the extra amount that is being charged for water, depending on which council tax band your home is in. This amount is collected by your local council and passed on to Scottish Water.
Exemption from water charges and a non-metered water supply
If a property connected to the water supply is exempt from council tax, it will usually also be exempt from water and sewerage charges. A property can be exempt from council tax for a number of different reasons.
A property might be exempt from council tax because it's empty for certain reasons. For example, the owner has died or moved into a care home. There might be a limit on how long the exemption lasts.
A property might also be exempt from council tax because of the people living in it, for example, students or someone who is severely mentally impaired. The property is exempt from paying council tax and water and sewerage charges only if everyone in the property is exempt from paying council tax.
Example: When a couple live together and one person is severely mentally impaired, the property is not exempt. But there might be a discount for council tax and water and sewerage charges. The local council might apply a single person discount of 25%. This is applied to the water and sewerage charges as well as the council tax and should be clearly shown on the council tax bill.
Read more about when your property is exempt from council tax.
Metered water supply
If your home is connected to the public water supply and you have a water meter, you'll pay Scottish Water directly. They'll send you a bill. If you have any problems with your bill, for example, your meter was faulty you have to talk to Scottish Water to resolve the problems
Exemption from council tax but not water charges under a metered supply
If you're exempt from paying council tax, for example because of severe mental impairment, you're unlikely to also be exempt from paying metered water charges. If you wish to make sure you're exempt from the water charges calculated by a water meter, you would have to negotiate with Scottish Water to revert to ordinary non-metered charging for water.
Who provides sewerage services
Scottish Water provides public sewerage services to domestic households in Scotland unless there's a private septic tank or you're a mobile home resident. If you have a private septic tank, you don't have to pay Scottish Water for it, but there are some rules you must follow.
Paying for using the public sewerage system
When you're connected to the public sewerage system (and most people are where they live), you pay for using it as an extra amount with your council tax, depending on which council tax band your home is in.
When you get your council tax bill for the year, it will show how much is being charged for the sewerage. This amount is collected by your local council and passed on to Scottish Water.
If the property is exempt from council tax, for example because it's empty or only students live in it, it will usually also be exempt from water and sewerage charges.
Read more about exemptions from council tax.
Is the amount billed for using public water and sewerage correct
If your council tax bill includes an additional amount for water and/or sewerage charges, this must be shown on the bill.
If you're told that you owe arrears of water and/or 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.
Charges for water and sewerage on mobile home sites
If you live permanently in a mobile home, the site may charge you for providing water and sewerage services. You shouldn't also have charges from Scottish Water on your council tax bill. There's a licensing system for mobile home sites with permanent residents. Your local council can check that the site owner or manager is a 'fit and proper' person to run the site. The site must keep to the rules about the charges that can be passed on to residents for water and sewerage.
If you live permanently on a mobile home site, and you think you're being overcharged for water and sewerage, you can contact your local council. You could consult an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau. Find out where to get advice.
Help with paying for public water and sewerage charges
Single person's discount
If you're entitled to a single person's discount on your council tax, it will also be applied automatically by the local council to the water and sewerage charges on your council tax bill.
The maximum discount for water and sewerage is 25% based on the entitlement to single person discount. This is a smaller discount for water and sewerage than the maximum 35% discount under the Council Tax Reduction scheme.
Council Tax Reduction and water and sewerage charges
If you get Council Tax Reduction (CTR), you should also get a reduction of up to 35% on the public water and sewerage charges on your council tax bill, unless you're getting another discount.
You can read a leaflet on council tax benefits and water and sewerage services [ 0.79 mb] for more information.
The amount of the reduction on your bill depends on how much CTR you get. The local council should apply this automatically to your bill.
Example: If you get 50% Council Tax Reduction, you'll have 50% applied to your water and sewerage charges, but only up to the maximum of the possible 35% reduction. This means you'll get 35% reduction on the water and sewerage charges.
Arrears of water and sewerage charges
If you have arrears of water and sewerage charges, there are a number of ways these might be collected from you.