Your compensation information

Last reviewed:
We want to make sure you have all the information you need following the recent disruption to your water supply.

A message from Steve Robertson, Chief Executive Officer

I would like to personally apologise to all our customers across the region who experienced interruptions to their water supply following the freezing weather and rapid thaw in early March. Having restored supply to all our customers our priority is now to follow up with customers and understand what we need to do better in the future.

Whilst we make extensive preparations for winter, this incident was unprecedented in terms of scale and technically complex to resolve. Our teams worked round the clock to restore supply however, we recognise we failed to protect our customers from the impact.


 

Your questions answered

We’ve put together some questions to help you with some of the answers you need – such as how much compensation you will receive.

The amount will vary depending on how long you were without water for. We've included a table below to show the amount of compensation being given.

Compensation policy Amount
4-12 hrs £30
12-24 hrs £50
24-48 hrs £100
48+ hrs £150

Our normal customer guarantee scheme payment is £30 once the water supply has been off for more than 12 hours. If the water is off for more than 12 hours, we make an additional payment of £10 for each further complete period of 24 hours the supply remains off. Due to the scale of disruption, we have increased the standard compensation we usually give our customers.

We have calculated that £30 is around one month of the average annual household bill and £150 is around five months.

We’re sending cheques following feedback from the majority of our customers who would prefer to have cash compensation rather than a credit on their account. To ensure you receive your payment quickly, this is the simplest way.

If, however, you do want your compensation to be paid a different way, please speak to us.

For the type of water main that burst, we would normal pay £30 compensation after your water has been off for 48 hours. Because of the disruptions caused, we have lowered the 48 hours timescale to four hours.

This payment is 50% more than our statutory obligations.

We have been and will continue to write to you to let you know how much compensation you’re entitled to. As part of our customer guarantee scheme, we have 20 working days to make the compensation payment. We will try to make all payments within this timescale and will ensure you receive payment before the end of April. We have over 50,000 customers affected by the recent event and we want to make sure everyone is compensated the correct amount, and this is why it may take a bit longer to make these payments.

There may be some situations where we restored supplies but there were further intermittent problems and there could be several reasons for this. It will be difficult for us to confirm exactly what may have been the problem at a specific property but we have carefully calculated the time properties were without water and are confident that the payments we are making will cover the length of time you were without water.

As airlocks aren’t generally caused because the water has been turned off, but due to air being trapped in the internal plumbing system within a home, we will not be giving compensation in this situation. This is because, fittings and internal plumbing should be set up in such a way that when water is restored, the air is displaced and cleared from the system.

We have no legal liability to pay for the costs of a plumber, however, we may make a discretionary payment towards these costs if we feel it is appropriate. To find out if this is something we can help you with, please get in touch.

We appreciate that the circumstances were difficult but we did provide customers with bottled water to use at home. We are also making enhanced payments above our statutory requirement that can be used to go towards any costs incurred.

We are making enhanced payments above our statutory requirement to go towards any cost you incurred while you had no water. We understand that it was a difficult time and we provide bottled water for customers to use at home.

We recognise that this was very disruptive and inconvenient for our customers and we are sorry that you had to take emergency unpaid leave to look after your child. However, the circumstances were beyond our control and were quite unprecedented. The law recognise that there was no negligence on our part and there is no liability on our part to make payments for this.

You will still receive a bill as normal and you should pay as you normally would. The compensation payment that we have made includes any rebate we would offer you for this period.

We will only make one payment for each property affected by this event and because our records have your landlord as the bill payer we have sent that to them. Please speak to them to see if they will forward the payment on to you.

We will only make one payment for each property affected by this event and because our records have your landlord as the bill payer we have sent that to them. Please speak to them to see if they will forward the payment on to you.

The payments that we are making are for people who were without water from 3 March 2018 to 9 March 2018. If you had moved out before then you will not be entitled to a payment. However, if you have already paid your charges up until the end of March 2018 then you may be entitled to a refund. If you can let us know the date that you moved out and where you moved to we can correct your account and send any closing bill or refund to you.

The cheque has been made payable to the person that we have on our records as responsible for paying the water services charges at this property. If you are now the person responsible for paying the charges then we can amend the cheque but we will also need to amend the water services account into your name from the date that you became responsible for payment. Please get in touch with us to do this.

Although the vast majority of our customers had their water supplies restored within 48 hours, we do know that some were affected longer. In some instances, the pressure may not have built back up to normal levels within our network, in other instances there may been a secondary problem while in others the problem may have been within the customer’s own pipework. It will be difficult for us to confirm exactly what may have been the problem at a specific property but we have carefully calculated the time people were without water and are confident that the payments we are making are fair.

We’re sorry that you feel that our payment is insufficient but we are paying more than our legal requirement and above our statutory payment scheme for incidents of this nature. The payments that we are making equates to between one and five months of the average household water charges.

The cheque has been made payable to the person that we have on our records as responsible for paying the water services charges at this property. If you are now the person responsible for paying the charges then we can amend the cheque but we will also need to amend the water services account into your name from the date that you became responsible for payment. Please contact us to do this.

We appreciate that the circumstances were difficult but we did provide customers with bottled water to use at home. We are also making enhanced payments above our statutory requirement that can be used to go towards any costs incurred.

We are sending out payments as soon as possible and the payment should be with you in the next couple of weeks.

We carefully monitored the weather forecasts and prepared for the increase in bursts and leakage that we knew was due, however, we didn’t predict that the scale of the damage would be so high.

We had prepared for the bad weather by bringing in more employees, more bottled water and 4x4’s to help us transport people and equipment to where they needed to be.

We had 3,000 pallets of bottled water and in total only 1,400 were needed. Because of the sheer number of customers without water across a wide area, we thought we could more effectively serve our customers by setting up larger, more centralised collection points. This helped us to better manage the supplies to ensure there was enough for everyone. As well as this, it meant we could use larger lorries to deliver the water to the bottle collection points, in larger volumes.

We also delivered water in smaller vehicles to help bring water into communities, but due to the size of the vehicles it meant we distributed less water over a longer period of time when we were using this method.

To make sure we have enough bottles water points in the future and that they are more accessible to people, we are in the process of creating a list of places where we can set up water stations. This means working with land and business owners as most bottle water stations have to be set up on private land.

Where we knew there were vulnerable customers, we delivered water directly to them. We have a register for more vulnerable people so that during an incident we can get them the help they need as quickly as possible.

We also had separate vans delivering water to care homes, schools, nurseries and to livestock who needed water. And if people contacted us who weren’t on our register, we tried our best to make sure they got the care they needed.

We encourage any customers who may need extra assistance to register for our priority service. You can find out more here.

We used social media as our main communication point to keep people up to date with what was happening, as well as our website. However, we understand for some people that this isn’t where they would go to find out their information. We are looking at ways in which we can improve our service and provide updates to our customers.

Throughout the incident, we tried to give timeframes on what was happening. However, due to the size of the incident this sometimes wasn’t possible. We also tried to ensure we responded and spoke to as many customers as we could.

For those schools who had to close during this time, we will make a discretionary payment of £2500 to each school. As well as this, we will also offer these schools our education package – this is where they can visit our sites and take part in a talk on STEM subjects.

While I am sorry that your business was affected, we cannot guarantee that there will never be occasions when we have to turn the water supply off whether this is because of planned maintenance work or as in this instance, because of a burst water main.

The legal position with regard to this is that we do not have a liability for your loss of profit. Compensation for loss of profit is normally only payable when it is as a consequence of material/physical damage caused to your property. This was not the case on this occasion so your loss of profit is deemed as pure economic loss and is not recoverable in law.