NOW OPEN: the MSE Forum 'Ask An Expert' event. This time we'd like your questions on TRAVEL & HOLIDAY DEALS. Post by Wed and deals expert MSE Oli will answer as many as he can.
Essex and Suffolk Water Debt
edited 25 March 2015 at 2:03PM in Water bills
17 replies 5.6K views
This discussion has been closed.
Latest MSE News and Guides
Energy Price Cap change
Martin Lewis on what it means for youMSE News
Best £1 you've ever spent?
Share your most impressive bargainsMSE Forum
New MSE Forum avatars available
Try 'em out nowMSE Forum
Are you paying current charges - are they included in your payments? You could ask ES to apply for deductions from benefit on your behalf, but including current charges it would probably come to around £40 P.M. anyway. If it took you over 25% of your benefit being deducted (including the DWP arrears) the DWP would need your permission.
I would consider asking ES to apply for deductions to be made (or you could promise to pay) when the DWP deductions end. You do have some protection by being on benefit and if you are willing to start paying when the deductions won't take total deductions over the allowed 25% that may be considered reasonable by the water company or a court if it goes that far.
You own your own home, so you can't afford to be maverick about it, but if you dig your heels in, keep up correspondence, make your financial position clear and can potentially show a court good reason why you haven't yet paid, and that you will pay at some point, you may be able to delay making payments until you can afford them.
If it did go to court you could then show 'good faith' and hopefully not get hammered too much.
If none of this works, and it ends up in a court claim, then you can defend it as best you can using whatever tactics are available - but that may only delay a judgement being made.
As you are on benefit you receive no allowance towards water charges, and so it would seem unreasonable that you would have to pay them. Whether or not this would have any impact in court is debateable but it's a fair thing to say in any defence argument.
[Edit: if you are interested in delaying tactics one way to do it would be to ask ES to apply for Third Party Deductions to be made, then if asked by the DWP if that's OK you can simply not respond and see how that goes. If the deductions start automatically, and they take total deductions over the allowable 25% you can then challenge them with the DWP and they should be stopped. This also might look better in any court claim, as you can be seen to be making efforts. Asking for deductions, then denying them, may sound like you are contradicting yourself - but you are asking for (lawful) deductions to be made - and if you happen to find out later that they are unlawful... well, it's only then when you can challenge them. It's a bit risky for a couple of reasons but along with an application to strike out any court claim and whatever else you can come up with it may at least help with causing as much delay as possible.]
Taken to court and threats of bailiffs? That doesn't sound right - how far in the process of being taken to court have you got? Claim form? Judgement? Enforcement?
I'm guessing claim form, so the next step is to defend the claim. You have been making regular payments, and that seems to me to be a reasonable defence - hope you have all the receipts.