Call for water rates change to benefit sector

Labour MP says many charities will see huge increases in drainage costs unless water companies change the way rates are calculated

Labour MP Mike Hall has called on the Government to consider making water companies change their rates for charities.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 18 December, Hall said many charities will see huge increases in drainage costs in the next three years unless the UK's largest water company, United Utilities, changes the way it calculates its rates.

The water company has recently introduced a fixed-price rate based on the size of a property's land area. Previously, costs were based on a property's ‘rateable value', determined by the purposes for which the property is used.

Hall, MP for Weaver Vale in Cheshire, said utility company regulator Ofwat has demanded that water companies treat each of their customers in the same way.

"That is all well and good, but it does not take into account the contribution that places of worship, scouting organisations and hospices make to the communities that they serve," he said.

"Every penny that such organisations have to spend on additional water rates – to the profit of United Utilities – is a penny less for the services that they provide."

Hall said he has been asking for a meeting with a minister from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform for some time, but because of recent Government reshuffles, he has not been given one. He refused to name the minister who he says has turned down his requests.

Hall said the Government must take an inter-departmental look at the issue.

"It would also be helpful if United Utilities produced figures that demonstrated beyond any doubt that the policy is revenue-neutral," he said. "I have been visited by lots of organisations that are paying more, but by no one who is paying less."

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