Understanding your bill
To help explain what all the parts on your bill mean, we've built an interactive tool for you to explore:
Our unmetered charges
Our charges from 1 April 2017 are detailed in the leaflet below. Charges for households without a water meter are listed on page 11:
Frequently asked questions
What charges are included in my bill?
Most bills include charges for water and wastewater services, depending on the service you receive from us. The charge for each service has two parts – a fixed charge and a variable charge.
Fixed charge – This cost doesn’t change and covers things like maintaining water mains and pipework.
Variable charge – This charge is for unmetered homes and is based on the chargeable value of the property.
You can view our charges here.
What is chargeable value?
Bills for unmetered properties, built before 1989, are based on the chargeable value of the property (also known as the rateable value).
The chargeable value was set by the Valuation Office at the Inland Revenue and represents the potential annual rent for your property. This is not related to your council tax banding.
Rateable Values were based on the size, location, access to local facilities and desirability of your property. For example, if your property had double glazing and the identical property next door didn’t your home would have been given a higher rateable value. This charge isn’t calculated from your actual water use.
We apply this value to calculate your water charges. There is one rate for water services and another for wastewater services. The rates you pay depend on where you live. You will also pay a fixed yearly charge.
You can find out more about your rateable charge in our charges leaflet.
What is the Assessed Household Charge?
If you ask us to fit a meter at your property and we're unable to do so, for example, if the pipework is not suitable, we'll apply the Assessed Household Charge if it’s less than what you’re currently paying.
The Assessed Household Charge is based on the number of bedrooms at your property. If only one person lives at a property, a special ‘single occupier tariff’ is used instead.
What is Notional Value?
If we need to fit a meter at your property, for example because there have been structural alterations, but we are unable to do so, we will apply a Notional Value. This is based on the number of bedrooms and the local authority coding area for your property.
View an example of an unmetered bill with an explanation of the charges.
What do fixed charges cover?
Fixed charges include the cost to treat water from highway and surface water drains, produce bills and answer queries.
The annual fixed charge is divided into the number of days in the year. The amount you pay in fixed charges relates to the number of days your current bill covers.
An amount is included within your fixed charges to cover the treatment of rainwater from the highway, which enters the public sewer system from gullies in the road.
It’s the responsibility of your local highway authority to maintain the gullies and to make sure highways are properly drained.
Surface water drainage
Surface water is rainwater that falls on to your property and runs through guttering and drainpipes into the public sewer, or water that drains into the sewers from outside activities, such as car washing. Most customers' properties are connected to a surface water sewer or combined sewer.
You can find out if you are connected to the public sewer by checking where your gutters lead. If there’s evidence of a sewer close by – for instance, a heavy duty manhole cover – then it’s likely that surface water from your property drains directly to the sewer, and a charge for this is included in your fixed charges.
If your property isn’t connected to the surface water sewer – for example, if surface water drains into a watercourse, stream, river or soakaway – you might be able to claim a rebate. Your bill will state if surface water drainage charges aren’t included. You’ll be able to see this on the back of your bill in the section 'How we work out your bill'. This will show if you are charged for surface water drainage or what the reduction could be if you aren’t connected.
Please note the soakaway must capture 100% of all the rainwater from the front and back of the property to be eligible for a rebate.
If my application is successful, do I get a backdated payment for surface water drainage?
Before April 2001 the surface water drainage charge was included in the general wastewater charges. However, from that point a national change was introduced to allow customers not receiving surface water drainage on their property to have that part of the general charge removed.
If your claim is investigated and accepted, the date the rebate will be given from will be determined by the age of your property and the time you have lived there.
In the case of homes with a metered water supply, built before 1 April 2001, the rebate will be given from the date of your last metered bill that spans the beginning of the financial year (1 April) in which you have applied.
If you moved into your property after the beginning of the financial year in which you apply, the rebate will be given from the date you moved in.
For homes built after 1 April 2001, the rebate will apply from the date you moved in, up to a maximum of six years.
For commercial or business premises the rebate will be applied from the beginning of the financial year (1 April) in which you apply. If you moved into your property after the beginning of the financial year in which you apply, the rebate will be given from the date you moved in.
We charge every property connected to the public wastewater system. You may also use our wastewater services indirectly through foul, surface and highway sewers and drains.
There are circumstances when not all the water you use returns to the sewer.
If you can show that more than ten per cent of the water we supply to you is not returned to the sewer, you can apply for an allowance known as a wastewater abatement.
How much have bills increased?
Charges for unmetered joint water and waste customers will stay around the same for 2017/18.
This year, charges for wastewater only customers, on average, have gone decreased.
Find out more about wastewater only charges.
When will I receive my bill?
Unmetered bills are sent out every February/March and show the charges for the next year (1 April to 31 March).
When you move into a property you should receive your first bill within ten working days. You will be charged from the date you move in until the end of March the following year.
Can I receive my bill electronically?
If you register your account online, you can choose to go paperless. It’s quick and simple to do, and then you’ll have your account at your fingertips.
How can I pay my bill?
We’ve got lots of different ways you can pay your bill - take a look at our payment options to see which method suits you.
Why is my bill so high?
If your property is unmetered, you can’t reduce the size of your bill as it’s calculated using the chargeable value of your property – which has no connection to the amount of water you use. So your bill better reflects how much water you’re using, you may benefit from having a meter fitted.
If you’re struggling to pay your bill, we offer different payment plans, financial schemes and reduced tariffs that could make paying your bill a bit easier.
Would I pay less if I had a water meter
Water meters are generally recognised as the fairest way to pay for your water, as you will only have to pay for the amount of water you use, plus a fixed charge.
View our switching to a water meter section to see if you could reduce the size of your bill.