January is the time of year when many of us have to face up to debt problems – not having enough coming in to meet the outgoings. Many people will turn to local advice services, especially when they have an unexpected life crisis like loss of a job, benefit sanctions, bereavement or injury.
Debt advisers sort out payments into priorities. The most important ones are where non-payment could lead to loss of your home or car or disconnection of your fuel and water.
In 1999, the law was changed to make stop water disconnections to householders. The water supply is such an important asset for a family and cutting it off has a serious effect on health and cleanliness.
However, tenants of Sheffield City Council are treated differently because they still pay water rates with their rent. If they get behind on payments, they can lose not just their water but also their home.
It is time to end this unfair treatment. In December, Green Party councillors asked the council to stop including water rates to evict tenants. The council could either continue to collect water rates without the threat of eviction or hand the job back to the water companies. Sadly, the Labour councillors voted our proposal down, keeping their hard line on evicting tenants in difficulty with their rent and water rates.
Cllr Douglas Johnson
Sheffield Green Party, City Ward
Letter to Sheffield Star