United Utilities overcharging

Socialise and chat about other areas of your life
I live in social housing, where the landlords are due to renovate the property. I've just discovered quite a few of their other properties have water meters. Which I was shocked + dismayed about, as I tried to get one fitted some years ago. How can I rectify the matter? I'm planning on going to CAB, is there anything I myself can do in the meantime, besides not pay the current bill they've sent me?
Hi Butterfly68

I’ve had quite a few dealings with United Utilities, both for myself, and for other tenants on my Housing Association estate. So I think I can pass on some useful info, as follows:

1) If you applied for a water meter a while back, and one couldn’t be fitted, that usually means your property is unsuited for a meter, as not all properties can have them fitted. Therefore, the chances are good your Landlord won’t be able to get one fitted in your property either.

Keep in mind that water companies actually want properties on water meters, so they must have had good reason to refuse your request. HOWEVER, what the sneaky so-and-so’s don’t tell you is that if they can’t fit a water meter they’re supposed to offer you what’s called an ‘Assessed Charge.’
You then have 3 months in which to apply for this . But if they don’t let you know about it, how can you apply?

What is the Assessed Charge? It’s a flat rate charge, just like normal water rates, but only applies to those properties that cannot have a water meter fitted. Depending on the type of your property, Assessed Charges can often be half, or even less, than the standard water rates.

For instance my neighbour has a two bedroomed flat and her water rates where nearly £600 per annum, and that was nearly 4 years ago.
She applied for a water meter and the assessor said one couldn’t be fitted, even though I’d already had one fitted and we live next door to one another (some problem with her pipework or something that I didn’t have.)
The assessor ‘forgot’ to leave the paper work for applying for Assessed Charges with my neighbour; he hadn’t even told her about them.
I chased up UU about it on her behalf, and her rates were more than halved to about £250 per year… bit of a difference!

Here’s the link about UU’s Assessed Charges; not easy to find on their website but I’m expert at this by now.
It’s a long report. The pages relevant to you are page 29, section 3.5.5.
If you are a single person household you will be charged £94.35 pa for water regardless of the type of property you live in.
For households of more than 1 person it goes on the type of property: terraced, semi, etc.

For sewerage assessed charges go to page 35, section 4.3
If you are a single person household you will be charged £160.41 for sewerage services regardless, blah, blah, blah.

So a single person household will be charged a total of £254.76 pa for water and sewerage regardless of how much, or little, water you use.

2) Regarding your current water rates and not paying them that’s not really an option. You will end up in court, with approx £350 court costs added to your outstanding water rates.
However, you can apply for a grant from a charity run by, but independent from, UU. If you qualify, they’ll pay off any water rates outstanding plus a little extra to get you up and running again. I applied for this in 2009 and had all my outstanding water rates written off provided I agreed to have a water meter installed. I’d give them a go if I were you. The worse they can do is say no, and they'll probably say yes. Here’s their link:


Hope the above is of help. Do not hesitate to PM me if you need further info, etc.
You DO NOT have to pay your latest bill in one fell swoop. Nor do you have to take out a Direct Debit. I can't stand DD's as I'm on such a low income. IF the money was not in my account to cover a DD I'd then get fined by the bank, perhaps even the company itself. I therefore avoid DD's like the plague.

I'm on a water meter, but hardly ever at my flat due to my caring duties. So, basically, all I pay is the standing charges, which total approx £135 pa, and about a fiver a year for my water used.
I have an online account, and every month pay in about £12, as and when, to more or less keep on top of my water charges. It works for me. Miracle of Miracles, I was once even in credit with them :woohoo: