Fairness of Assessed Billing & Hosepipe Bans

Exodi
Exodi Posts: 2,771
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Hey everyone,

I couldn't see any details of this being asked in the past, so I wanted to get peoples opinions on something.

My house does not have a water meter (for the record, I'd love to have one! When I last enquired about it I was informed there was no room to install a meter/stop tap and to get in touch if I ever had my driveway taken up). As my usage can not be measured, I pay Assessed Charges.

I live in a three bed detached house, with my wife. As you can expect, this means we likely use less than what the assessed usage of a typical family in a 3 bed house might be based on.

This year our bill (including drainage) was £580.71. I have several work colleagues who live local to me in similar size houses with their partners, like me, who pay £20-25 per month... so about half.

While frustrating, I can live with this as we plan on having a few kids in the near future, and I would be able to fill a paddling pool or two up in the summer 'for free' if I so desired.

But one thing that niggles me is hosepipe bans for assessed usage customers. For example, South East Water (My provider) enacted a hosepipe ban in June last year which they removed in August (for the record, I have no issue with hosepipe bans in general!). For metered customers that pay for their usage, obviously they would not have paid for water they did not use. However for assessed customers, there is no discount or rebate during this (or previous) bans. You're asked to use less water, but simultaneously asked to pay the same.

If I look at their FAQ's ( https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/about/updates/lifting-the-hosepipe-ban/ ) I see they say in response to compensation: "If you are an unmetered customer, you are most likely to be a lower user of water as we cannot install a meter at your property. You are charged on an assessed basis of average use rather than your individual use. Therefore, no adjustments will be made to your bills."

This doesn't really make much sense to me, unless they mean to suggest that their average has also taken account of potential future temporary water restrictions? I'd expect if I directly asked they'd probably say this was the case regardless.

I don't plan on doing anything, especially as even if I added the reduced usage up, we're probably only talking the price of a takeaway, but was interested if anyone else had made a point out of it? Or if I should stop being petty and let my mind focus on more important things!
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Comments

  • LightFlare
    LightFlare Posts: 389
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    On the plus side -- you can use as much water as you want to keep your lawn and flower beds watered when there isnt a ban without worrying about how much it might cost you
  • Rodders53
    Rodders53 Posts: 2,085
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    You can have one.
    You've said you've been told that you just need to take up your driveway!

    I have to ask why that's required.  Water meters are normally placed in the highway/services strip and outside the boundary of a property.

    I have to say the £20-25 per month is rather low in my view - unless they are dirty beasts or have some other way of saving water.

    We harvest rainwater to flush our loos and as a result use around 3 cu m per month.  My bill (Anglian Water) is around the middle of that sum, £23 / mth {currently a bit lower as we got a significant £50 credit due to water outages we had last year}.  Just the two of us, retired.
    I reckon we'd use double that amount of water, i,e, 6 cu m per month, without the harvester. {Based on our previous metered home usage}.
    So likely much closer closer to what you are paying  (circa £45 per month)?

    PS the harvester uses electricity to pump the water from a storage tank to the toilet cisterns so probably doesn't save any real money.  It was here when we bought the house.

  • bluelad1927
    bluelad1927 Posts: 304
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    Even when there is a ban you are still able to use as much water as you wish, just not through a hosepipe. There is nothing stopping you filling the equivalent amount of watering cans.
  • Exodi
    Exodi Posts: 2,771
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    Rodders53 said:
    You can have one.
    You've said you've been told that you just need to take up your driveway!

    I have to ask why that's required.  Water meters are normally placed in the highway/services strip and outside the boundary of a property.

    I have to say the £20-25 per month is rather low in my view - unless they are dirty beasts or have some other way of saving water.

    We harvest rainwater to flush our loos and as a result use around 3 cu m per month.  My bill (Anglian Water) is around the middle of that sum, £23 / mth {currently a bit lower as we got a significant £50 credit due to water outages we had last year}.  Just the two of us, retired.
    I reckon we'd use double that amount of water, i,e, 6 cu m per month, without the harvester. {Based on our previous metered home usage}.
    So likely much closer closer to what you are paying  (circa £45 per month)?

    PS the harvester uses electricity to pump the water from a storage tank to the toilet cisterns so probably doesn't save any real money.  It was here when we bought the house.

    I can only assume that it's not feasible for them to install it outside for one reason or another which is why they had looked inside before deciding there was not enough room to fit the meter. Unfortunately I wasn't present for the last appointment so I got a recount from my wife, but I would be interested in asking whether they could fit it inside if I had a plumber extend the pipework after the stop tap (to be honest, I'd have hoped the meter installer may do this, but no idea whether this falls within their remit, probably not). Maybe I'll book another appointment to discuss.

    I find that interesting about your usage figures... you now have me wondering whether my work colleagues are mistakenly stating just water - in comparison to my water + drainage. Rate assessed charges for just water is £300 (£25 p/m) which would be much more reasonable. I think I'll ask that question the next time we speak about it - if that were the case I'm suddenly not getting that bad of a deal!
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  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,640
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    Exodi said:
    I find that interesting about your usage figures... you now have me wondering whether my work colleagues are mistakenly stating just water - in comparison to my water + drainage. Rate assessed charges for just water is £300 (£25 p/m) which would be much more reasonable. I think I'll ask that question the next time we speak about it - if that were the case I'm suddenly not getting that bad of a deal!
    You should be able to look at the tariff on your water co's website and work out what volume of water per day/month/year is equivalent to £580 a year. Then you'll be better placed to compare to metered users.
    Southern Water (my supplier) have a useful page here:
    https://www.southernwater.co.uk/account/average-water-use-and-cost
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