Understanding Your Business Water Bill

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    Many UK businesses are unnecessarily paying too much for their water supply and they may not be aware of the variety of deals that are available to them. Switching your business water supplier can help save money but it is also important to fully understand your bill. This guide will detail all you need to know about your business water bill.

    What services does my contract cover?

    Firstly, let’s look at the services you contract covers. We have listed below some of the factors your contract will cover including:

    The services provided by your supplier include:

    • Water supply
    • Emergency provisions
    • Sewage services
    • Billing
    • Customer service

    Ancillary services include:

    • Automated meter readings
    • Audits
    • Leak detection and repair
    • Bill validation
    • Tariff optimisation
    • Pathogen testing

    How can I understand my business water and sewage contract?

    We understand that your water bill can be confusing, but we will ensure you understand exactly the contract that you are signing up for.

    Your contract should include:

    • Customer details – including your business name, address, type, and company number
    • Contact details – this is who will be contacted by water companies should the need arise
    • Property details – rented properties will need a landlord’s consent
    • Supply details – this will include your water and wastewater SPIDs, as well as your meter number and location
    • Tariff – this will show the key terms of your agreement, including the length of your contract
    • Payment details – including your bank details if you are paying by direct debit
    • VAT rates – this can change depending on the size of your business
    • Customer service number – this should be your first point of call should problems arise
    • Terms and conditions – including terms of exit, charges, and your obligations as a customer related cost

    Metered vs Unmetered Water Charges

    Metered Water Charges

    If you have a meter installed, your bill will be an “estimated”, “read” or “actual” consumption. There are two types of charges, these include:

    • A fixed charge – This is based on the type of water meter and covers both the readings and maintenance of your water meter.
    • A variable charge – This is based on your water usage

    The water regulator, Ofwat, sets a price cap to charges for consumptions below 50 MI to protect small businesses. Larger businesses can choose a single non-standard tariff or alternative tariff which allows them to match their supply with their demand.

    Unmetered Water Charges

    Although business properties are metered, there are some small businesses that will not have a meter installed. This makes it difficult to know exactly how much water is being used at the property. This means the water consumption will not be taken into consideration and similarly to unmetered domestic customers, your bill will include:

    • A fixed charge – This is based on the rateable value of the property
    • A fixed standing charge – This covers the customer relation costs of supply such as customer service and billing

    If you know your water consumption is low and your property has a high rateable value, it would be ideal to install a water meter for this as unmetered water bills are generally higher than metered charges.

    Having a water meter installed will also help your business find leaks quicker than if you didn’t have a meter installed. You will be able to tell if you have a leak as your water consumption on your bill will be more correct so if you bill is considerably more than usual, it is most likely going to be because of a leak. This is important as the quicker you find a link, the more money you will save.

    Sewerage Charges

    Another part of your water bill is water and wastewater services. This includes the collection and treatment of:

    • Surface water drainage – This is for rainwater that drains from your business into a public sewer.
    • Highway drainage – This is for water that runs off roads and pavements into the public sever trade effluent.
    • Wastewater – Water or any other liquid used within business on industrial purpose that you release.
    • Foul sewage – This is for any domestic wastewater that is released from the premises such as from sinks and toilets.

    How can I pay for my water supply?

    There are many ways to pay for your business water supply.

    The most common way to make a payment is by direct debit as this will automatically be taken out of your account every month and you may also get a reduced rate for paying by this method.

    Online payments using a debit or credit card are also an instant way to make a payment, but this method can offer your more control if you do not want the payments to be made automatically.

    You can also call your water supply and make a payment over the phone.

    If you use online banking, you can make a BACS transfer using your customer reference number.

    Suppliers also offer the choice to pay using a cheque or Girobank slip which you can attach to your bill. You can take the cheque directly to the bank or send it straight to your water companies. If this is your preferred method, it is important to send the cheque in plenty of time as it may take a couple of days to be received by your supplier.

    What is Rateable Value (RV)?

    Rateable Value or RV is a calculated based on the value of the property, size, location, and amenities. Rateable values are used by suppliers to help them estimate the consumption of businesses that dont have a meter installed.

    The Valuation Office Agency adjusted the rateable value of businesses, to align with the opening of the market, on 1st April 2017. You can view or appeal your rateable value at https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates. The Valuation Office Agency plans to revaluate the business rates every five years.

    If you are charge on your rateable value, you may be paying more than you need to for your business water. This is another reason installing a water meter can be beneficial for your business.

    What happens when your business water contract ends?

    When your business water contract ends, you will then have to choose to choose a new supplier and renegotiate your contract.

    It is important to know when your contract is ending as you risk getting put on deemed rates which are usually much more expensive. Our experts can help you manage your contract end date and help you find the best deal for your business’s needs.

    Due to the current energy crisis, many energy suppliers are ceasing to trade which can leave customers without a supplier. If your supplier ceases trading, you will be given a SOLR or supplier of last resort until your new supplier is appointed. This ensure that you are never lose your supply throughout this transition process.

    Microbusinesses are covered by some protections to avoid being placed on expensive deals. Microbusinesses are not allowed to be put on automatic roll over contracts in the open water market in the UK. Microbusinesses are also given a seven-day cooling off period to cancel a new contract.

    Switch business water suppliers

    Why have I been billed on an estimated reading?

    If your business doesn’t have a water meter or your meter readings are not submitted to your supplier regularly, you will be charged using an estimated consumption rather than accurate usage.

    Estimated consumption will be based on your last meter reading or your businesses rateable value if you dont have a meter.

    If your business doesn’t have a water meter, it is best to get one installed so that you are not being billed more than you need to be. It is ideal to install a smart meter as these will automatically send your meter readings to your supplier.

    The water regulator, Ofwat, has regulated that supplier must supply a minimum of one bill a year that is based on an exact meter reading if there is one available at the property.

    Multi energy meter

    What should I do if I haven’t received my bill?

    If you do not receive your water bill but you are still using your water supply, it is most likely a fault by your water supplier. It is important to contact your water supplier as soon as possible so you continue to pay your bills on time. This is essential so you are not penalised for any delayed payments.

    Why have I received multiple bills?

    If your business receives multiple water bills, it may be due to amendments that have been made by your supplier. This is because water suppliers must legally be bound to keep a record of any changes, therefore you may receive multiple bills. If this happens, you will only have to pay the bill with the most recent date.

    Why has my consumption suddenly increased?

    If your water bill has suddenly increase without you making any changes to your usage, you may have a leak or a burst pipe within your property.

    If you share your water services, you should check that no one else has changed their water usage.

    Are there any exemptions available for paying my water bill?

    Every consumer must pay for their water and wastewater bills.

    Rebates are sometimes offered if your business doesn’t require a certain service. If you have surface water drainage from your property that doesn’t go into public sewers than you can sometimes get money back from your retailer as you will not need to be charged for this.

    Your supplier and regulators can give you relevant guidance for if you are struggling to pay your water bills.

    What will happen if I don’t pay my bills?

    If you are unable to pay your water bills, then your water supplier may stop your water supply. The Water Industry Act does protect domestic customers from having their water supply stopped but the same does not apply to business customers.

    The best thing to do if you are struggling to pay your water bills is to get in contract will your supplier and then will offer you the relevant guidance for this situation.

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        ? What does this mean?
        To get your quotes at lightening speed we need several key pieces of information which can all be found on your electricity bill. But by simply ticking this box, we can search ‘industry held data’ to get your meter number, electricity consumption and current energy supplier. This means that we can get you quick quotes without asking you to dig out all of your paperwork. This is personal data therefore we need you to allow us to access this information.
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