We know it's an uncertain time, so we've answered some common questions about our service and market changes.
Ofwat has advised that businesses closed due to the outbreak and had significant reduction in water use (95% or more) won’t be billed during the initial crisis period. Businesses confirmed as temporarily closed have been classed as vacant and not billed during this period (16 March to 31 July 2020).
Protection from debt enforcement, interest on late payments and disconnection also applies to businesses that have all sites closed. Our approach is summarised below and detailed in our revised terms. You can find out more about Ofwat’s changes here.
In summary, from 1 June 2020 (and until advised by Ofwat), if all sites are confirmed as closed due to COVID-19 we won’t:
- serve disconnection notices for the non-payment of bills or invoices;
- attempt to recover any default interest or impose late payment charges for non-payment of invoices that were issued from 1 June 2020; and
- enforce the non-payment of invoices.
During the initial crisis period, Ofwat confirmed changes to support business customers in England, effective from 1 June 2020. You can read more about these changes in Ofwat’s Customer Protection Code of Practice.
As restrictions continue to effect businesses, we’re helping customers having difficulty paying due to COVID-19 restrictions by offering repayment options.
Our COVID-19 repayment scheme offers affordable repayment of your water or wastewater charges. If you’re eligible, we’ll work with you to agree a payment arrangement. Please get in touch to discuss this if you think this is an appropriate option.
If you can, please continue to pay your bill. If you think you will have issues paying your bill, please get in touch with us as quickly as possible.
Note that following the recent changes, we’ve updated our terms.
We’ll update your account to show that your premises are temporarily vacant. We’ll then send your most recent bill to cover charges from before you closed. These charges are still payable, so if you can pay your bill as usual then we’ll get your billing up to date.
Ofwat’s support ended on 31 July, so your account will be reopened soon and billing will be backdated to 1 August 2020. You’ll receive your next bill in line with your usual bill cycle. If the property is still closed, you’ll no doubt be using less water. If you’re metered, please send us a recent meter read, which will help bill accuracy while you’re closed.
We know this continues to be a difficult time for many and some premises aren’t open yet for various reasons related to COVID-19. However, we need to work within the guidelines set out to us by the water industry regulator.
If your business is reopening, please contact us to let us know. Please give us a meter read if you can so we can make sure your estimated charges are as accurate as possible.
Your bills are based on estimations of your consumption using meter readings. If we don’t have updated readings, these may not be in line with your actual water use. By giving us a reading, we can better estimate your charges. We can’t send our meter readers to any properties right now due to current restrictions, so any readings you can provide help improve the accuracy of your bill.
Visit our help section to find out how your bill is calculated and how to read your meter.
You can also read our advice on what to do to make sure your water supply is safe.
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.
Ofwat (the regulator) and MOSL (the market operator) have advised us that all metered water consumption will be chargeable even if your premises are closed.
Unless the stopcock is turned off, so no water can flow on the premises at all (including to any toilets, taps and appliances), water may still flow through the meter. This means you’re using water from mains supply even if the premises are closed. As your retailer, we’ll receive charges for this use so this consumption will be included on your next bill, once you re-open.
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 31 December 2020. Any charges you defer will need to be repaid after the schemes end and you can repay over 12 months.
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.
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.
Yes. Following recent changes from Ofwat in response to COVID-19, we’ve updated our terms to help customers deal with the effects of the pandemic. These changes relate to how we’re dealing with disconnection, late payments and non-payment of bills during the crisis.
In summary, from 1 June 2020 (and until notified by Ofwat) we won’t:
- serve disconnection notices for the non-payment of bills or invoices;
- look to recover any default interest or impose late payment charges for non-payment of invoices that were issued from 1 June 2020; and
- enforce the non-payment of invoices.
These temporary measures are in place for a limited time to help our customers affected by COVID-19. Our contractual terms will revert to normal when Ofwat advises these measures have ended.
Please note that we can still apply interest and late payment charges (if applicable) for non-payment of bills that were issued before 1 March 2020. You can see our revised Deemed Contract here.
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.
While we know your water bill isn’t your top priority, please pay it as usual if you can. By paying your bill, we’ll be able to cover your wholesale charges and help maintain critical services to businesses at a time when water is vital. Please note that under our terms, we can still apply interest and late payment charges (if applicable) for non-payment of bills that were issued before 1 March 2020. You can see our revised terms here.
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..
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.
Please let us know if your premises are still open and you think you’re using less water because of changes in staffing or your usual operations. You may also have an increase in water use depending on your business activities. You can complete our review charges form so we can re-calculate your estimated charges.
Because we can’t send our meter readers to your premises right now, please give us meter readings when you can to help estimate your next bill, so we charge you more accurately for the water you’re using.
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.