Getting Help With Water Costs
Your water bill is a priority bill and so you should be paying this before any unsecured debts.
Can my water be shut off?
No, it cannot. Water is a basic necessity so cannot be cut-off for domestic households.
If you are a tenant, then there is a slight risk of unintentional disconnection.
- If the water bill is in your name; it can’t be disconnected.
- If the bill is in the landlord’s name; and your rent covers the water bill, but the landlord fails to pay, legal action against the landlord will be taken. The water company can only disconnect if it makes the error of thinking the property is being used for business purposes without anyone living there.
Your landlord is not allowed the disconnect your water supply to get you to pay rent arrears or force you to move.
What happens if I don’t pay my water bill?
The debt will be passed to a debt collection agency and if this fails the issue of a court order will follow.
The court order will state you should pay the arrears at a rate the court considers affordable. If you do fail to do this further action may follow which could lead to bailiffs visiting you. If the bailiffs fail to extract payment, then an attachment or earnings or an attachment of benefits may follow. So, one way or another, you’re going to pay.
Can I Get Help To Pay Arrears?
The Water Direct Scheme allows those with arrears to pay a fixed amount towards charges and arrears directly from certain state benefits as this helps many with budgeting.
To qualify, you or someone living with you needs to be in receipt of certain state benefits. To apply to join this scheme contact your water company.
Help to pay water bills
The WaterSure Scheme is for certain households with a water meter. If you qualify you’ll pay no more than the average household bill, no matter how much water you use. This is so vulnerable people don’t cut back on essential water usage due to cost.
To qualify you or someone living with you, needs be in receipt of a qualifying benefit.
In addition, you need to either:
- Receive Child Benefit for three or more children under the age of nineteen who live with you or
- Diagnosed as having, or have someone living with you who has a medical condition which requires significant extra use of water. Examples include incontinence, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, renal failure requiring dialysis at home.
OFWAT is the regulator of the water sector in England and Wales. Their website contains information about your rights a consumer
Payment help schemes
Many water companies have schemes to help those with little chance of repaying all they owe. For example, some water companies will match each payment the customer makes. So for every £1 that the customer pays, the water company will also pay £1 towards their bill. Other water companies ask customers to pay a certain amount for a specified length of time and will then write-off the remainder of the debt.
Your water company should be able to give you more information on any schemes it operates.
For those in genuine financial difficulty, your water company may be able to assist through a charitable trust. These schemes offer financial help to people in debt to their water company. They are normally run independently of the water company. Contact your water company to see if it offers such a scheme.
Water arrears and IVAs
Water arrears from a previous address and your current address can both be included in an IVA as a creditor.
In the context of an IVA, debts are referred to as either an expenditure item or included as a creditor.
An expenditure item
When entering into an IVA, a calculation is made to determine your available disposable income. This establishes how to much you to have to pay towards your non-priority debts once you've paid for your living expenses, important obligations and priority debts. Your available disposable income is how much you pay into the IVA.
So, priority debts and other important obligations are said to be excluded from an IVA but are an expenditure item used to determine the IVA payments.
Included as a creditor
A creditor in an IVA represents a negotiable debt. It is these debts which are said to be included as a creditor in the IVA and cleared once the IVA completes.