Our series examining the questions in the CON29DW looks at which companies bill properties for different services.
Question 4.2 of the CON29DW ask “Who bills the property for sewerage services?” The following question, 4.3 asks the same of water services.
While for many customers the answer will be a simple one – with the bill provided by the company that provides both sewerage and water services – this is not always the case.
As we discussed last month, in many areas, water is provided by one company, and sewerage services by another.
In these areas, properties will receive either one or two bills, depending on the arrangements between companies as well as other factors such as the presence of a water meter.
Within Severn Trent and Hafren Dyfrdwy’s water supply areas, for metered properties, the water undertaker will usually collect the charges for both water and sewerage, as a single bill is simpler for customers, and pass the sewerage charges to the service provider. For unmeasured properties however, it is common that the property will receive a bill for water from the water undertaker, and another for sewage from the service provider.
There’s no universal rule regarding billing however, and other companies have different policies. For example, South Staffs Water will collect all charges regardless of whether a house is metered, and pass the sewerage charges onto Severn Trent.
For commercial properties in England, it is more complicated still. 2017 saw the government open up the water market for non-household customers. This meant that, although the provider of services did not change (i.e. customers within the Severn Trent Water region would still receive their supply from Severn Trent), customers were able to choose their retailer, the same as with other utilities such as gas and electricity.
These retailers deal with all the commercial aspects of water supply. They issue bills to customers and collect charges and meter readings, work with customers to reduce usage and charges, and are able to compete against other retailers for business.
Severn Trent Water no longer bill non-household customers. Following the opening up of the water market, these customers were transferred to a new company, Water Plus who took over the commercial relationships with customers. Under the new rules, customers were under no obligation to stay with this company, and were free to transfer to any company of their choosing. This opening up of the market allows for competitive pricing and service, as well as retailers being able to offer businesses bespoke arrangements.
In Wales however, the commercial market is not open, with non-household customers billed in the same way as domestic customers.
As the billing company is not always straightforward, it is therefore important that purchasers know in advance who will be billing them. While commercial customers have the option to change their billing company in England, residential customers do not, and their arrangements will be the same as previously. The CON29DW includes the name of the billing companies for both services, as well as providing their contact details.