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What does Ofwat say?

Newest Update: Ofwat accept importance of impact assessments but still continue to avoid responsibility for them. 

Read the full letter here.

Ofwat, the water regulator, have responded to The Scout Association by arguing that the new charges are fair and environmentally responsible.

They have given only a few, unworkable suggestions to reduce charges.

Ofwat have sent to us a copy of their correspondence with MPs that sets out their reasons for proposing these changes to how water is charged.

Despite the now overwhelming evidence that many community groups, sports clubs and religious buildings will be severely affected by these charges they maintain that these charges are the fairest and most environmentally responsible approach.

Burden falls on groups to challenge the bills

In the letter Ofwat states that they 'understand why community groups are concerned about rising bills', but point to the fact that 'many charity shops have seen their SWD charges reduced.'

They go on to suggest that to reduce bills customers should check that the water company's estimate of chargeable site area is correct.

This is something we are aware Scout Groups have struggled with, and would also be a lengthy process if all properties were to be visited. This also leaves the onus on Groups to challenge bills, rather than the water companies to charge a fair rate for services.

Impossible to reduce water draining into the sewers

Finally Ofwat also suggest that community groups should reduce the amount of surface water that drains into the sewers.

We know that Scouts are keen to improve the environmental impact of their buildings too. However, our research shows that for many Groups this would be impossible due to cost or space issues.

Our survey of Groups show that only half of them had room for a 'soakaway' with 39% of respondents saying they didn’t have the money or the space to dig such a facility.

Other alternatives such as rainwater recycling facilities were also prohibitively expensive. Therefore without financial assistance, Groups would not be able to follow Ofwat's advice.

A lack of understanding by Ofwat

We believe that this letter and the case it makes reflect a lack of understanding by Ofwat of the nature of many community and charitable organisations and the implications of moving to this system of charging for them.

We have asked Ofwat to set out what research or analysis they undertook to identify what the outcomes of such a move would be or how to help community groups and charities to mitigate these costs.

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