Surface water drainage: update
For the past few years, we have had a dialogue with United Utilities regarding the greatly increased charges for surface water and highway drainage that were being imposed on churches which had water meters fitted. The issue was given greater prominence nationally, when it was realised that this also applied to other community groups such as scouts and guides that had their own premises. As a result, the 2010 Flood and Water Management Act encouraged water companies to introduce concessionary schemes for community groups that were facing large increases due to being charged for drainage according to their site area.
Churches in the North West area recently received a letter from United Utilities to state that charges will be capped at Band 1, the lowest of the charging bands. If your church is served by United Utilities and you are facing greatly increased charges, you should contact United Utilities and ask to be included in the concessionary scheme. As far as we are aware, this will only apply to churches with a metered supply, though you should note that the water companies are moving towards installing meters in both domestic and nondomestic premises, so even though you may not be involved at this stage, this may not always be the case. Once you have a meter, it is very unlikely that it will then be removed, even if it should prove more expensive than the previous rate-based charge.
Churches served by other water companies that have metered supplies and have been (or are about to be) put on an area charging regime should contact their local water company and enquire whether they have set up a concessionary scheme, in line with the 2010 Flood and Water Management Act. If they have one, you should ensure that you will be placed on it. If there is no scheme (and no intention to implement one), please let me know and I will investigate whether pressure can be brought on the company in question.