COVID-19 Q&A

We know it's an uncertain time, so we've answered some common questions about our service and market changes.

Payment support

You’ll continue to receive your bill in line with your normal billing date, so please pay as usual if you’re able to. We’re doing everything we can to support customers that need urgent help with payments. If you’re in financial difficulty due to COVID-19 and you’re having issues making payment, please get in touch now to find out about our COVID-19 repayment scheme.

Help us to help you control your costs

We’re continuing to read external meters whenever we can, however some meter readings may be delayed due to government restrictions and business closures. Please give us regular meter reads if you can, as this will help keep your bills in line with actual use. Our system estimates charges based on your past consumption, so your next bill may be higher than it needs to be without a recent reading. Please send a meter reading whenever you can to make your billing more accurate.

Closures between 16 March – 31 July 2020

Regulatory changes introduced in March 2020 in response to the pandemic meant retailers could mark premises as temporarily vacant if it was completely shut, or consumption fell by at least 95% due to the first lockdown.

During this time, we were able to apply ‘temporary vacancy flags’ - effectively this stopped fixed charges being applied and paused billing for businesses that had to close during the first lockdown. These support measures were put in place by Ofwat to help businesses that needed to close during the initial crisis period, and these measures ended on 31 July 2020.

We’ve since applied the support measures to business closures that we know about (for closures between 16 March and 31 July 2020). To meet the requirements for this support, we must know about a business closure within 12 months of the closure date. For example, if your business needed to close on 23 March 2020 due to restrictions set out by the Government, you must have told us of this by 23 March 2021. If your business needed to close any time up to 31 July 2020, you must let us know by 31 July 2021.

Please get in touch if you believe you’re eligible for this support.

In response to COVID-19, WICS has announced charge relief schemes for Scottish businesses that have temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Affected customers that are having difficulty making payment can benefit from:

  • Wholesale Charge Deferral Scheme (WCDS)
  • Prepayment Refund Scheme (PRS)

Wholesale Charge Deferral Scheme
The Wholesale Charge Deferral Scheme (WCDS) is a temporary change to water and sewerage charging arrangements. It provides financial support to Scottish businesses that are adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and having difficulty making payments. The charges you can defer will depend on whether your business is unmeasured or metered (and the size of your meter) or whether your charges are for drainage only. Up to 60% of wholesale charges can be deferred and in some instances 100% of volumetric (consumption) charges can be deferred. Find out more about the scheme and how this could help your business.

How do I apply?
If you’d like to benefit from this scheme, you’ll need to apply online. Once we’ve received your application, we’ll pass this to Scottish Water on your behalf. When we’ve received a decision about deferring your charges, we’ll get in touch via the email address you’ve provided to us.

Prepayment Refund Scheme
This scheme allows you to have pre-paid charges refunded, less charges for services you’ve already used. We know that many customers like to know their bill is sorted, so if you’d rather not get a refund you can opt out of this scheme and we’ll continue to manage your account as usual. If you pay in advance, you can also benefit from the Wholesale Charge Deferral Scheme as above. We’ve written to our prepayment customers detailing these options and how to apply.

How long do the schemes last?
Both schemes are backdated to 24 March 2020 and will last until 28 February 2021. Any charges you defer will need to be repaid after the schemes end and you can repay over 12 months.

Further information
If you’d like to find out more about these schemes and what’s in place to support non-household customers in Scotland during the outbreak, visit the WICS website or find the Scottish Water website.

Even if your water has not been officially disconnected, there are a number of things you need to do to make sure your water supply is safe for you, your staff and your customers when you’re back in business. Read our advice on how to check your fixtures and appliances before you reopen.

We know this is a stressful time, and we’re here to help. You don’t need to cancel your Direct Debit - if you can submit a meter read to us, then we'll be able to get your account up to date.

We understand you may be worried about paying your bill or in financial difficulty, particularly with the period of time some businesses have had to close. If you think you’ll have an issue paying your bill, please get in touch with us to discuss how we might be able to help.

You may be eligible for our COVID-19 repayment scheme, which allows you to affordably repay any water or wastewater charges. If you’re eligible for the scheme, we’ll work with you to agree a payment arrangement. You can find out more about this here.

You can also find the latest Government advice for businesses here. If you you need additional support, Business Debt Line provides free, impartial and confidential advice, with specific guidance on dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.

We appreciate that your water bill isn’t going to be your top priority right now, but please continue to pay your bill if you can and read our latest payment advice. If you’re finding it hard to keep on top of your bills, we’ve got support in place for those that need it. If you’re in financial difficulty because of COVID-19, please get in touch to see how we can help you make manageable payments.

Our COVID-19 repayment scheme allows you to affordably repay any water or wastewater charges if you’re having problems paying due to COVID-19. If you’re eligible, we’ll work with you to agree an arrangement that suits your circumstances. Get in touch with your friendly team to discuss your situation and see how we may be able to help.

Live web chat is the quickest way to get in touch. Our web chat and phone lines are open Monday to Thursday 08:45-17:30 (17.00 on Fridays). We’re closed on weekends and bank holidays (England only).

If you need additional business support, the Business Debt Line provides free, impartial and confidential advice, with specific guidance on dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.

If you’re already on a repayment plan and you’ve had a change in circumstances which means the arrangement no longer works for you, get in touch with us. We may be able to help by reviewing the terms of your scheme to make sure it remains affordable. The quickest way to get in touch is by web chat during our normal hours, or you can call us on 0333 207 9283 (note call waiting times may be longer than usual).

Meter reading was interrupted during the initial outbreak, so it may be a while before we can get to you. Our system uses reads to estimate charges from one billing period to the next. Please try to send us a read frequently, especially during this unsettled time, so your charges will be more accurate based on your actual water use. Visit our help section to find out how your bill is calculated and how to read your meter..

You can submit a meter reading online or when you log in to My Account. You can also text your meter reading to us on 07860 019 830.

If you can’t do this right now, don’t worry - we’ll estimate your next bill based on the information we have.

We’re still open as usual (08:45 to 17:30 weekdays, 17:00 on Fridays), however we’re supporting thousands of customers right now so it’s taking a bit longer for us to respond. If you can, please contact us via web chat or email. We sincerely apologise if you’re waiting longer than you’d like for a response. We’re doing our best to answer queries as soon as possible.

Your water supply is provided by the water company (wholesaler) in your region. We’re keeping in touch with wholesalers to get the latest updates regarding water supply.

Currently, the information we are receiving from water (wholesale) companies is that they are:

  • monitoring the situation closely and have emergency planning in operation;
  • working to ensure resilience plans are as strong as possible and that every step is taken to minimise risk to everyday operations (this covers areas including personnel, chemicals and supplies and prioritisation of works planned);
  • acting on the latest information from planning groups, the government and other key agencies, and believe the risk to current operations is low; and
  • increasing the number of operational people to run critical functions at water treatment works and waste water treatment works.

The pace of change caused by the outbreak is fast. Organisations will react differently as they prioritise non-essential activity to protect staff and customers. Wholesalers may change the type of work they have planned, such as rescheduling meter exchanges or site investigation works.

We’ll update this page with any further updates as we receive them.

If your supply is interrupted, please contact your local wholesaler directly. If you don’t have this information, you can find details here.

Hand washing is vital in fighting the spread of COVID-19. If you’re following guidelines and washing hands more often and for longer then you may see a very small increase to your bill during this period. However, it’s important to maintain good hygiene. To save water, turn off the tap while you soap your hands and only put it back on to rinse.

If you you’re using significantly more water because your usual business activities have increased, you can complete our review charges form and we can re-calculate your estimated charges. Please also submit a meter reading when you can to help estimate your next bill, so we charge you more accurately for the water you’re using.

Our priority is to make sure colleagues are safe and protected from the virus. Following the latest advice, we’ve moved quickly to homeworking wherever possible. We also continue to remind everyone of the huge importance of thorough and frequent hand washing at all times, as well as limiting social contact.