Castle Water CEO John Reynolds’ update on the latest lockdown, what Castle Water is doing, and what you can do to reduce your water charges
We have been taking as many meter readings as possible so that we are billing wherever possible based on up to date consumption.
- meter readings are crucial
- set up an online account
- vacant premises
- tariff increases
- no rebates
- cold weather
We have taken around 40,000 meter readings per month since July, however, we won’t have the opportunity to take enough meter readings to reflect current reduced consumption.
We are actively revising down estimates of usage where we can – for sectors where all businesses are closed, this is reasonably straightforward, such as theatres. For others, where some customers remain fully or partially open while others are closed, this is more difficult – such as schools or restaurants.
Meter readings are crucial
Please try to provide regular meter readings if you can. If your consumption is reduced, the best way to make sure your bill is accurate is to let us have two meter readings, one month apart, at the reduced level of consumption. This will then reset charges and estimates going forwards. You can submit meter readings quickly and easily here.
We are, of course, taking as many meter readings as we can, but in many cases have not been able to take sufficient reads to ensure any reduction in charges has been correctly recorded, especially if your meter is inside your premises (in a lockdown, restrictions on businesses make it more difficult to access and read meters, and practising social distancing may prevent access to internal meters).
Set up an online account
You can set up an online account to make sure you don’t miss any bills, access previous bills, update your contact information, and provide meter readings.
Premises are treated as Vacant if they comply with the requirement to have i) no stock; and ii) no fixtures and fittings in place. If you have vacated your premises, provided they comply with these requirements you should not be liable for water charges until they are reoccupied – please contact us to let us know including confirming you have no stock or fixtures and fittings.
I wrote in the Autumn about the increase in tariffs to expect from 1 April this year: although the exact level of increase will vary by area and by the specific tariff, and Wholesalers have not yet published their final tariff documents, for planning purposes most customers can assume an increase in tariffs of 5%.
For the lockdown announced on 4 January, as for last November’s lockdown, we do not expect Ofwat to repeat the measure it took during last March – July, which allowed us to mark premises temporarily vacant to reflect sudden and unexpected reductions in consumption.
I have written to the CEO of Ofwat to ask her to look at “Unmeasured” tariffs – these are tariffs applied for some customers without meters and can be a multiple of alternative “Assessed” charges. These tariffs are designed to encourage all customers to have meters, but many affected customers are tenants who don’t have the authority to have meters installed, and therefore the charges don’t seem fair – the simple solution for customers with Unmeasured tariffs is to have a meter installed, but this isn’t feasible or affordable for everyone, and the result is that customers least able to pay bills are trapped on the highest tariffs.
If you have to close your business during the lockdown, given the cold weather please remember to turn off your water at the stopcock, and drain down all appliances – this is also important for hygiene reasons.
Our free Winter Wise Guide is packed with handy tips to get your business safely through the winter, from insulating your water tank to safeguarding your pipes.
During the previous lockdowns, we found many more customers found it easier to contact us via webchat. We have significantly increased the number of our colleagues available to chat and you can find this on any page of the website.