Citizens Advice Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement that the Water Charges Reduction Scheme is to be increased from 25% to 35% reduction for those who are eligible.
CAS Water Policy Manager, Gail Walker, said:
"Water charges in general are increasing, which is necessary to protect customer services and deliver commitments such as net zero targets. The important thing is that the costs should fall on those most able to afford it. An increase in the Water Charges Reduction Scheme from 25% to 35% each year will offer better protection for low income households against increased water charges over a longer period of time, and we fully welcome this commitment by the Scottish Government.
“CAS will continue to monitor the real impact of price increases on low income households using our research programme, and we will work with the Scottish Government to ensure that affordability policy meets the needs of low-income households in the longer term.
“However, as well as increasing financial relief for low-income households, we are aware that many fall into debt because they don’t realise that they still have to pay for water and sewerage charges when they receive benefits. We want to see a range of measures to help prevent people falling into water debt and to help those in debt to recover.
“These include clearer communication that people in receipt of Council Tax Reduction are still liable to pay at least 75% (from 1 April 65%) of their water charges and making sure that repayments for those in water debt will not come at the cost of buying food or heating homes.
“Given that more households are likely to be in receipt of Council Tax Reduction as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever that people are made aware of their ongoing liability to pay for water charges to avoid falling into debt.”