Green councillors invited Sheffield City Council to protect council tenants by ending evictions for people who cannot afford to pay their water rates on time.
The move would bring council tenants into line with every other householder. Water companies were banned from disconnecting water supplies for non-payment in 1999 but council tenants can still be evicted if they get into debt.
The Green proposal came in an amendment to the council meeting on 6th December 2017, asking the council to account for water bills separately from rent accounts and ceasing to pursue eviction in the courts because of water rates;
Speaking on the proposal, Cllr Douglas Johnson said,
“I spent many years helping council tenants stop evictions when they got into debt. In every case, the council relies on non-payment of the water rates, as well as rent arrears. It is not enough for the council to say it will not evict where rent arears are solely due to delays in universal credit.
“The Council has a chance to make a real difference to the lives of council tenants at a time of crisis, simply by bringing their cases into line with everyone else.
After Labour councillors voted against the proposal, Cllr Alison Teal said,
“It was disappointing to see Labour councillors speak out so strongly against the idea and even deny that water charges were ever used to evict tenants.”
- The proposal from Sheffield Green Party was:
“That this Council notes that, in Sheffield, only Council tenants can be evicted from their homes if they cannot pay water bills on time and therefore calls on the Administration to end this practice by accounting for water bills separately from rent accounts and ceasing to pursue eviction in the courts because of water rates;”
- The amendments are available with the Council agenda at: http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=6694
- The Labour group of councillors voted against the proposal.
- Housing benefit is not payable for water rates, even where they are payable under the tenancy agreement.