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Water Charges: Voluntary Organisations

Volume 494: debated on Friday 19 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what effect he expects the guidance he plans to issue to Ofwat on charges to voluntary, religious and sporting not-for-profit organisations for surface water drainage to have on charges to the organisations concerned. (281221)

Guidance was issued by the then Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in 2000. This states that surface water drainage charges for non-household customers should be set in a way that is sensitive to the actual use of the service by different types of premises. Ofwat, as the independent economic regulator for the water industry, is required to have regard to this guidance.

United Utilities recognised that its switch to site area charging was not in line with this guidance, or Ofwat’s more detailed 2003 guidance to water companies. Consequently United Utilities introduced a moratorium on its surface water drainage charges for 2009-10 for faith buildings, community amateur sports clubs (and similar clubs) and properties owned by Scout and Guide associations. This saw surface water drainage charges for these customers revert to 2008-09 levels.

United Utilities is currently working on a revised scheme of charges for 2010-11 and beyond. Ministers are keeping the situation under review.