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 receive your council tax bill for the year, it will state the additional amount that is being charged for water, depending on which council tax band your home is in. This amount is collected by your local authority and passed on to Scottish Water.
Exemption from council tax and a non-metered water supply
A property connected to the water supply may have people living in it who are exempt from paying the council tax, for example, a student 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 it may attract a discount for council tax and water and sewerage charges because the local authority applies 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.
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.
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 additional amount with your council tax, depending on which council tax band your home is in. When you receive your council tax bill for the year, it will state how much is being charged for the sewerage. This amount is collected by your local authority and passed on to Scottish Water.
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 authority 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 authority. 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 to the water and sewerage charges on your council tax bill.
Council Tax Reduction and water and sewerage charges
If you get Council Tax Reduction (CTR), you should also get a reduction of up to 25% 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 [ 0.68 mb] for more information.
The amount of the reduction on your bill depends on how much CTR you get. The local authority 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 25% reduction. This means you'll get 25% 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.