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FAQs

Listed below are some of the categories containing the most Frequently Asked Questions from  business customers. For issues and complaints, please visit the dedicated section here.


Charges and bills

Are water charges included in my business rates?

Charges for water and sewerage services (including drainage where applicable) are not included as part of business rates.  

Non-household customers in Scotland are billed separately for their water and sewerage services (including drainage where applicable). Household customers continue to pay through their Council Tax bill. It is the responsibility of every occupier of a business premises to contact a retailer and to pay for the water and sewerage services received (including drainage where applicable). You can visit the Retailer Hub for further details about the retailers in Scotland.

Can I obtain quotes for my water and sewerage services before I sign up with a new retailer?

To obtain quotes for water and sewerage services (including drainage where applicable) you will need to contact the retailers that you are interested indirectly. All retailers should be able to advise you of their best quote for your individual circumstances. You can also use the Customer Enquiry Form to ask one or more retailers to get in touch with you.

Can I choose different retailers to supply my water and my sewerage services?

Yes, you should be able to choose a different retailer to supply your water services from the retailer supplying your sewerage services (including drainage where applicable). Usually, water services and sewerage services (including drainage where relevant) are provided under two different Supply Point Identification numbers (SPIDs).

Are vacant business premises exempt from charges?

No, the exemption for vacant business properties was removed by the Scottish Government in April 2017.  

Consistent with Scottish Government’s Principles of Charging, these properties are liable for water and sewerage charges (including drainage where applicable) in the same way as those that are occupied.  

Further details are available at https://www.mygov.scot/water-charges-vacant-properties/

Am I eligible for charges if I did not receive a bill?

Every occupier of a business premises must contact a retailer and pay for the water and sewerage services received (including drainage where applicable). It is important that everyone pays their share towards maintaining the water and sewerage network in Scotland as that helps to keep bills down for all customers. Retailers are therefore responsible with charging for all of the services used at a premises from the date of occupation. This means you may be asked to pay back-dated charges if you have been in your premises for a while but have not received a bill.

If you have received a bill for backdated charges, you should check that the period you are being charged for is correct. You should then speak with your retailer about any backdated charges, including any disputed amounts, and the repayment terms that are available.  

It is a requirement that all retailers offer their customers the opportunity of a payment plan before pursuing a disconnection. More information on disconnections can be found here: https://wics.scot/system/files/publications/Disconnections%20document.pdf

How are my charges calculated?

If you are on unmetered charges, then your bill will be based on the rateable value of your premises.  

For more information on the rateable value please see the question ‘What is a rateable value?’ below.

If you pay your water and sewerage charges based on your rateable value you can apply to have your charges reassessed. The reassessment process firstly checks to see whether a meter can be fitted at your premises. If this is not possible, it then allows your charges to be reassessed based on an estimate of your consumption rather than your rateable value. More information on the reassessment process can be found here.

If you are on metered charges, then your bill will be based on your consumption along with a fixed charge. Your drainage charges (where applicable) will still be based on the rateable value of your premises.

What is a rateable value?

Unmeasured water or sewerage charges (including drainage where applicable) are based on the rateable value of the premises. The rateable value is determined by a Scottish Assessor. More information about how this is calculated can be found here: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-guidance/how-your-rateable-value-and-rates-are-calculated

You can find the rateable value of your property by accessing the Scottish Assessors Association website at: https://www.saa.gov.uk/

You can also contact your local assessor if you need to discuss your rateable value. More information regarding your local assessor can be found here: https://www.saa.gov.uk/assessors-links/

I think I am being charged the wrong amount – what should I do?

You should always contact your retailer as soon as you believe there is a problem with your bill. Your retailer should then be able to investigate any issues with your bills.  

You can raise a complaint directly with the retailer if you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the investigation. You can find more information on raising a complaint here.

I am being charged for drainage services – what is this?

Drainage charges recover the cost of the sewer network transporting surface water away from your property and treating it before it is discharged back into the environment. It also represents your contribution to the drainage required for all of Scotland's roads (not just the particular roads near your premises). It is the Scottish Government’s policy that the cost of roads drainage is recovered from all eligible premises.

If your premises falls into any of the categories below then you will be charged for drainage services.  

To be charged, your premises must either:

Drainage charges are based on the rateable value of your premises. For more information on the rateable value please see the FAQ ‘What is a rateable value’ above.

If you think that the level of your charges is wrong or you should not be charged for drainage services, you should speak to your retailer as soon as possible.

My property doesn’t have a connection – why do I have to pay a retailer?

Even if you do not have a water or sewerage connection, you may still need to pay charges for drainage, if any part of your property or any communal areas you have access to drains to the public sewerage system.

I already pay for water services through my landlord – why do I have to pay a retailer?

Even if your landlord already pays for your water services, for example if you rent a unit in a shopping centre or an office building, you may still need to pay drainage charges separately if the particular unit or office has been rated by your local assessor separately from the overall shopping centre or office building. This may be the case as drainage charges are usually based on the rateable value of each relevant property, unit or office.  

For more information on the rateable value please see the FAQ ‘What is a rateable value’ above.

I've received an unexpected water bill, what should I do?

If you have received a water bill that you weren’t expecting, you should contact your retailer for help understanding why it has been sent to you. The retailer should be able to explain why the bill has been sent to you, what it covers, and what your payment options are.  

If you want to raise a complaint against your retailer, click here for information on how to do so.


Connections, meters and disconnections

I need a new water connection – what should I do?

If you’re constructing a new property or site, you may need to set up a new water connection. If you’ve simply moved premises, you might not need a new connection, although you may change your retailer if you like.

The process for new connections in Scotland can be found here.

I don’t have a meter – can I get one?

Most business premises should now have had a meter installed. This follows the Scottish Government’s initiative to introduce metered charging to as many business customers as possible. For a limited number of premises, however, the way in which pipes are arranged made it uneconomical for Scottish Water to install a meter.

If this applies to you, you may be able to apply for a reassessment. When undertaking a reassessment Scottish Water will assess the possibility of installing a meter at the premises. If this is not possible, Scottish Water will then assess whether it is willing to make a cost contribution towards changing the internal pipework of the premises in order to install a meter.

If this is still not possible, you may get your charges recalculated based on an estimate of your consumption.

More details on the reassessment process can be found here: https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/business-and-developers/licensed-providers/wholesale-market-and-charging/reassessment-process

If you wish to do this, you will need to contact your retailer and ask them to submit a reassessment application on your behalf. The contact details for retailers can be found in the Retailer Hub or on their website.

What should I do if my meter is not working as intended or has stopped working altogether?

You should contact your retailer as soon as possible if your meter has stopped working or is not working as it should. Your retailer will be able to provide all the necessary information.

Is it true that I can be disconnected if I don’t pay?

Yes, a business premises can be disconnected for non-payment. However, safeguards are in place to ensure that customers are given as much opportunity as possible to pay prior to being disconnected. There are also restrictions on who can be disconnected and when this can happen. You can find more information here.

What if I choose to remain disconnected following non-payment?

You should still contact your retailer as soon as possible. Your retailer may continue to apply late payment fees, for example, until your historic debt has been settled. In addition, drainage and trade effluent charges may continue to apply (where relevant) even while your premises remains temporarily disconnected, as drainage services cannot be discontinued.

How can I reconnect my business premises following a disconnection for non-payment?

You should contact your retailer as soon as possible. Your retailer will be able to provide all of the necessary information regarding the procedure, arrangements and financial requirements when reconnecting your business premisses following non-payment.

What is the difference between a permanent disconnection and a temporary disconnection?

A permanent disconnection usually refers to any physical disconnection of water services to an eligible premises. This may involve removing the connection to the public water supply system or making it unworkable such that the supply of water services at that point can only resume if a new connection is made.

A temporary disconnection usually refers to any physical disconnection of water services to an eligible premises which is not a permanent disconnection. It typically involves turning off the supply at a valve on the supply pipe (usually at the meter). Unlike a permanent disconnection, a temporary disconnection will not require a new connection to be made once the customer reverts back to full supply.

Your retailer should be able to provide all the necessary operational and financial information regarding permanent and temporary disconnections.

Scottish Water has told me that I need to appoint a contractor to carry out the work required before it can connect my business to the water supply. Can you provide me with a list of contractors?

Scotland on Tap cannot provide contact details for licensed contractors (ie plumbers/builders) who would be able to assist you. However, you may find it helpful to speak to your retailer.   

 

Appointing a retailer and occupancy 


How do I find out who my retailer is?


If you do not know who your current retailer is, you can find this information out in three ways:


I own (or act as an agent for) a business property. What are my obligations if there is a change in occupancy or the site becomes vacant?

Business property owners and their agents are obligated by law (the Water Resources Scotland Act 2013) to notify retailers when there is a change of occupancy at a premise or where that property becomes vacant.  

The Scottish Landlord Portal is a convenient service that allows commercial property owners, property associations, landlords, managing agents, or councils (in other words, owners or anyone acting on their behalf) to:


The Scottish Landlord Portal can be found here.

Why have I received a letter from Scottish Water saying that I need to appoint a retailer?

If your business property is receiving water and sewerage services (including drainage where applicable), you need to pay for those services through a retailer. Sometimes a property that is receiving services has not been registered correctly and is consequently not being charged – this is called a ‘gap site’. When Scottish Water identifies a gap site, it sends out a letter like the one you have received.

When you receive this letter, you will have 15 business days to choose a retailer and to make arrangements to become their customer. If you do not do this, a retailer will be chosen at random for you.  

Please visit the Retailer Hub for more detail of the retailers in Scotland.

If you already have a retailer, you should get in touch with them and quote the reference number on the letter. It’s possible that the letter is about another service or part of your property that you’re not currently paying for – your retailer can help clarify this.

 

Charities and private supplies

I do not pay for water under the charity exemption scheme – do I still need to choose a retailer?

Yes, all business customers in Scotland who receive water or sewerage services (including drainage where applicable) are required to have a retailer. If your organisation does not have one, you will need to appoint one or otherwise one will be chosen at random for you.  

You will then need to apply for the exemption scheme through your retailer.

Am I eligible for the exemption scheme to assist charities and sport clubs with their water and sewerage charges?

Further details on eligibility for this scheme can be found by accessing the following link: https://www.mygov.scot/water-sewerage-exemption

I have a problem with a private supply – who can help?

Neither Scotland on Tap nor the Water Industry Commission for Scotland are part of the regulation of private supplies.  

Any problems with a private supply must be dealt with by negotiation with the owner of the supply. You may wish to consider engaging a lawyer to assist you.

If you are concerned about the quality of the water from your private supply, you may find this page from the Drinking Water Quality Regulator helpful. https://dwqr.scot/private-water-supplies/

You can find further information on private supplies by accessing the following link: https://www.mygov.scot/browse/housing-local-services/water-supplies-sewerage/private-water-supplies

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