1 Paying your bill Code of practice The standards of service you can expect from us
2 2 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill Contents 1. Your bill 3 2. I m having difficulty paying my bill, what should I do? 4 3. How and when will I receive a bill? Bills for unmetered customers 3.1. Bills for metered customers 4. Current charges 5 5. How can I pay my bill? 5 6. Can you take payments directly from my benefits? 6 7. Are any bill reductions available for vulnerable customers? 7 8. Who else can I contact for help and advice? Citizens Advice Bureau 8.1. Consumer Credit Counselling Service 8.2. Other debt counselling services 8.3. Severn Trent Charitable Trust Fund 8.4. Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) 9. What will happen if I don t pay? Steps Do you use debt collection agencies? 9.2. Bailiffs 10. Privacy notice What if I have a dispute about my bill? I am a tenant, when am I responsible for paying the bill? I am a landlord, when am I responsible for paying the bill? I have individual needs how can you help? How can I contact you? 14
3 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill 3 We know that there are lots of demands on household budgets and organising your money to pay your bills can sometimes be difficult. Water and sewerage bills must be paid but we can make it easier if you need us to. Our credit management advisers have been trained to give you advice on the payment options available and to help you find an arrangement that works for both of us. Help us to help you by telling us as soon as you have a problem we can only help you if we know about it. 1. Your bill We operate under a licence that is granted by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This means that there are many laws and regulations which govern what we do and these include the rights you have as a customer. Independent regulators monitor our business to ensure that we operate fairly. In addition to this we have introduced our own policies and services which go beyond our regulatory obligations. Our Codes of Practice exist to ensure that you as a customer and we as a company enjoy a regulated relationship that benefits us all. They have been produced in consultation with the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) and have been approved (with the exception of pipe-laying powers) by the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat), the water industry s economic regulator. From time to time we may revise the Codes and update them to include our improvements in services to you. This leaflet sets out our Code of Practice relating to your bill and applies to household customers. It also sets out our debt Code. Separate leaflets are available that deal with other aspects of our full company Code of Practice. These are: Guaranteed Service Standards Your water supply Dealing with used water Pipe-laying powers Leakage What to do if you are unhappy with our service Metering your water supply.
4 4 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill You can get copies by downloading them from stwater.co.uk or by telephoning our Customer Contact Centre on Nothing in our Code of Practice affects your legal rights, nor is it a contract between you and the company. Whilst many of our Codes apply to domestic and business customers, this leaflet is aimed at domestic customers only. All of the numbers you need to contact us can be found at the back of this leaflet. 2. I m having difficulty paying my bill, what should I do? Contact us, we can help! We know that there are lots of demands on household budgets and organising your money to pay your bills can sometimes be difficult. Water and sewerage bills must be paid but we can make it easier by spreading the bill over a number of instalments - monthly, fortnightly or weekly - if you need us to. Our credit management advisers have been trained to give you advice on the payment options available and to help you find an arrangement that works for both of us. Help us to help you by telling us as soon as you have a problem we can only help you if we know about it. Call us on for help and advice or write to us at the address shown at the back of this booklet. Please remember, if you don t keep to a payment arrangement that we agree with you, you will have to pay the full amount that you owe us immediately. 3. How and when will I receive a bill? 3.0. Bills for unmetered customers We send you your bill in February or March and you should normally pay in two instalments by 1 April and 1 October. You can also choose to pay in eight monthly instalments between April and November. If you do this you can choose which day of the month to pay. Call our Customer Contact Centre on for more information or to set up your payments. As an unmetered customer your bill is calculated based on the Rateable Value (RV) of your property. Your local council valuation office calculated your RV based on location, floor space and number of rooms but they aren t required to hold the records of your original RV or to consider any appeals. We will only have details of the final RV figure and this varies from property to property so your RV could be different to your neighbours. However, if your property has had a change of use, the RV might not be appropriate anymore and so we may need to make necessary adjustments to your charges. We will normally calculate the annual charges as follows: For water supply, by multiplying the RV of the premises by a rate per pound of RV, subject to a minimum charge. For sewerage services, by multiplying the RV of the premises by a rate in the pound based on the services that the property receives or benefits from (surface water drainage, highways drainage and foul sewage).
5 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill 5 For further details please see our Charges Scheme available at stwater.co.uk. If you use relatively little water, opting for a free water meter could mean cheaper bills as you will only pay for the water you use (clean and used), surface water drainage and a small standing charge. If you have a small household or use watersaving methods and appliances you could benefit from having a meter. Call us on for more details. You have the right to go back to an unmetered charge if you tell us that you want to. You must do this within 12 months of your meter being installed or within 30 days of your second bill Bills for metered customers We send your bills every six months and they need to be paid when you receive them. You can also choose to pay monthly. To arrange this call our Customer Contact Centre on Metered charges are made up of three elements, water supply, used water and surface water drainage. Water supply and used water charges are based on the volume of water used. This is measured in cubic meters (m 3 ); 1m 3 is equal to 220 gallons or 1000 litres of water. The amount used is calculated based on the difference between two meter readings reflecting usage. Surface water drainage charges are levied for the removal and treatment of surface water or rainwater from the property. Charges are based either on the RV of the property or based on property type flat/ terrace, semi-detached or detached. If your charges are currently based on rateable value you can opt to be billed based on property type. 4. Current charges Details of our current charges can be found in our Charges Scheme, available to download at stwater.co.uk. 5. How can I pay my bill? As well as our payment plans that can help you if you are having difficulty paying, we offer a number of ways for you to pay your bill: Set up a Direct Debit from your bank or building society account. It s safe, convenient and easy to arrange and it offers you a choice of payment dates. Visit our secure website at stwater.co.uk to pay by debit card. You can also pay by debit or credit card by phoning our Customer Contact Centre on and selecting the make a payment option which will take you to our automated payment line. There is no charge for paying by debit card. For credit cards, a transaction fee in the region of 2% is levied by your credit card provider and we reserve the right to recharge this fee (we would notify you of this before charging your credit card).
6 6 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill Take your Watercard or payment slip and cash payment to one of the approximately 1,200 PayPoint outlets in our region. You can find PayPoint outlets in newsagents, supermarkets, garages, off licenses and corner shops and the service is free of charge. Send your cheque payment by post to the address on your bill. Please write your Severn Trent Water account number on the back of the cheque and ensure the cheque is dated correctly and signed. Pay at any bank or building society. The service is free if you pay by cheque at any branch of Lloyds TSB. It may be free if you use your own bank or building society but some charge for this service. You can also pay at the Post Office where a counter fee will be charged. Use your home or telephone banking. Please quote sort code and bank account number and your Severn Trent Water account number. You can find more details at stwater.co.uk or by requesting our Scheme of Charges which is available to download on the website or by calling our Customer Contact Centre on If you have individual needs and find it hard to use our payment methods, please contact us and we will try to find an arrangement that works for both of us. 6. Can you take payments directly from my benefits? If you owe us money and you receive income support, job seekers allowance, employment support allowance or pension credit, the JobCentre Plus offices (previously known as the Benefits Agency) may be able to arrange for your bill to be paid out of your benefits directly to us. Contact us on and explain your circumstances to our trained advisers. They will take your details over the telephone and make an application for Water Direct (previously known as direct payments) on your behalf, or you can make an application on our website at stwater.co.uk. The application will take only a few minutes to complete; just have your National Insurance number ready. Paying this way means: You won t have to remember to make payments. You pay in a convenient way for no extra cost. We won t take any further action against you to collect money you owe if the JobCentre Plus pays your bill from your benefits to us directly. This also applies whilst your application is being processed. If you have already contacted the JobCentre Plus offices for help please let us know. JobCentre Plus will contact you directly to confirm if you are accepted on to the scheme.
7 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill 7 7. Are any bill reductions available for vulnerable customers? If you use a lot of water because you have a large family or someone in your household has a medical condition, and you are on a low income, our WaterSure scheme (formerly the vulnerable household scheme) could help. It is a statutory scheme that offers you a capped charge for metered water services. If someone in your household receives benefits and someone has a medical condition that means you use more water, or if someone in your household receives benefits and you have three or more children under 19, you may be able to apply. You can qualify for a reduced rate if you pay for your water based on a meter reading and someone in your house is receiving any of these benefits: Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support Income Based Job Seekers Allowance Housing Benefit Council Tax Benefit Child Tax Credit (except in receipt of the family element only) Pension Credit Working Tax Credit. You must also have either: three or more dependent children under the age of 19 years living at the property, or you or someone else living at the property must have a medical condition requiring high water usage. For more information and an application form visit stwater.co.uk or call us on You can also If your application is successful, we will apply the new WaterSure tariff to your account from the day after your last bill was issued. WaterSure applications must be renewed every 12 months; we will remind you by letter when it is time to renew.
8 8 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill 8. Who else can I contact for help and advice? Citizens Advice Bureau The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) service is an independent charity which provides free confidential, independent and impartial advice on a wide range of problems. Expert advisers can help you to sort out your debts. If you have other problems, such as illness, redundancy or divorce, the adviser may also be able to help you or they may tell you where you can get help. The CAB can check if you are entitled to any extra income. They can also help you work out and negotiate repayment plans with the people you owe money to. The repayment plans will be based on what you can realistically afford to pay after your essential living costs have been met. On your first visit, please take with you all the relevant details of your income and how much you spend. The CAB will contact us via a dedicated helpline to arrange a suitable payment arrangement on your behalf. To find your nearest CAB, look in your local phone book, enquire at your local library or visit citizensadvice.org.uk Consumer Credit Counselling Service Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) is a registered charity, dedicated to providing confidential, free counselling and money management assistance to financially distressed families and individuals. Call StepChange on or stepchange.org. They offer a wide range of services, including welfare benefit checks, mortgage counselling, self-employed assistance and bankruptcy services. They offer free, confidential and impartial advice available over the telephone (freephone 8am-8pm) or online via their website. They can help you prioritise your debts and set up structured repayment plans with the option of making one monthly payment. For free counselling and money assistance please contact CCCS on or visit cccs.co.uk Other debt counselling services The National Debtline ( or nationaldebtline.co.uk) and some Money Advice Centres (which can be found in the Yellow Pages) provide a free debt counselling advice service. Please check the service is free before using it. Neighbourhood Offices can often help with debt problems too (check under your local council in the phone book). You can also ask Social Services for help. They are unlikely to give you any money, but might be able to help in other ways.
9 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill Severn Trent Charitable Trust Fund If you are suffering exceptional hardship you can get in touch with the Severn Trent Charitable Trust Fund for help. The Trust is a fully independent registered charity. For further information about the Trust, contact your nearest CAB or Money Advice Centre. You can also find out more by writing to: Severn Trent Trust Fund FREEPOST RLZE-EABT-SHSA Sutton Coldfield B72 1TJ Telephone If you tell us an application has been submitted to the Trust Fund we won t take any further action against you to collect money you owe until the outcome of your application is known. If you are successful the Trust Fund will make a partial payment towards the amount you owe us and help you to make arrangements to pay the rest Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) CCWater can offer you help and advice. Please contact them using the details given at the end of this leaflet. 9. What will happen if I don t pay? If you don t pay your bill, or don t keep to a payment arrangement that we have agreed with you, we will take the following steps to recover the debt: Step 1 We will send you a written notice or telephone you to advise you of the debt. How quickly we do this will depend on whether you have kept up with payments in the past. Step 2 If you still don t pay and you haven t contacted us to reach an agreement to pay, we will ask the County Court to issue a claim against you for the debt. This means that legal costs (a minimum of 65) may be added to the amount you already owe us. We may seek to recover interest on the debt, through the County Court, at a rate of 8% from the date that the charges were originally due for payment up to the claim issue date. If you still don t pay and you haven t contacted us to reach an agreement to pay, we may record on your credit file that you have defaulted on your payments to us.
10 10 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill Step 3 If you still do not pay or contact us, we may seek a County Court judgement against you. This will mean that further legal costs may be added to the amount that you owe (minimum 22) depending on the outcome of the claim. In addition, further interest at a rate of 8% may be levied from the date of the claim to the date that a judgment is entered against you which will be added to the amount that you owe. Your credit rating may be affected at this stage which may affect your ability to obtain credit in the future. Step 4 If you don t keep to the arrangement to pay as ordered by the court, we will take steps to recover the amount you owe. We may: Ask the court to order you to attend your local court to give information about your finances Take a deduction from your income. The court will contact your employer to arrange deductions Issue a warrant instructing a bailiff to enter your property and take your goods Make a charge on your property if you own your home. This will mean we will advise the mortgage lender Instruct your bank to freeze your account Begin bankruptcy proceedings. This will be done as a last resort Do you use debt collection agencies? Yes, we may decide to use debt collection agencies at any stage in the debt recovery process. Any agents we use are subject to our standards of service and behaviour, as set out in our leaflet Code of Practice Guaranteed Service Standards. Visit stwater.co.uk or call our Customer Contact Centre on to request this. Our agents are regulated by the Office of Fair Trading and they operate a Code of Practice set by the Credit Services Association. If you have a complaint about our agents you should contact us directly Bailiffs Bailiffs are employed by the County Court and keep to the County Court standards and procedures. If you have a complaint about the Bailiffs please contact your local County Court.
11 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill Privacy notice We will use the information we hold about you to manage your account. We may also use the information we have to contact you about other water-related goods and services, if you do not wish to be contacted please Additionally, we may share with and obtain information about you from other utilities, local authorities, government departments, credit reference agencies and other companies for use in any credit decisions, fraud prevention and to pursue debtors. If you provide us with personal data, you have consented to us handling it for the purposes mentioned. We may transfer your personal data to other organisations in any country only for any of the purposes mentioned. Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have the right to make a subject access request. All requests must be made in writing to: Data Protection Customer Relations Severn Trent Centre PO Box 5309 Coventry CV3 9FH There is a small charge for this service. 11. What if I have a dispute about my bill? If the bill is for someone who lived in your property before you did, or if someone else was responsible for paying the bill for some of the time the bill covers, contact us as soon as you get the bill. If your bill is addressed to the occupier please let us know so that we can update the details and sort out any issues. We might ask for proof of the date you moved in to the property so that we can update our records. We will look into any issue, complaint or dispute you have and we will follow our complaints procedure (explained below). Whilst we re investigating your dispute, we won t take any further action. Stage 1 Contact us and we will record and respond to your complaint. Our advisors will take the details of your complaint and record it. Your complaint will be confidential and, if you want to, you can make it anonymously. If, after speaking to an adviser, you aren t completely satisfied our Duty Managers are always available. They will be happy to help you and either continue the call or arrange to call you back at a convenient time. For issues and complaints about your water bill call our billing team on For issues and complaints concerning our water and sewerage services, please call our Customer Operations Service Centre on
12 12 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill We also have a textphone facility available 24 hours a day on You can send s to You can write to us at the following address: Severn Trent Water Limited, Customer Relations, PO Box 5310 Coventry CV3 9FJ Stage 2 If you aren t happy, we can review your complaint. Please let us know why you aren t happy by calling, ing or writing to us using the details provided. Your complaint will go to a senior member of our customer service team to be reviewed. We will assess all of your concerns fully and let you know the outcome as soon as possible. In some cases you might feel it would be better to deal with the issue face to face and we are happy to visit, or for you to visit us, by appointment, if you ask us to. Stage 3 If you don t agree with our review you can contact CCWater, an independent organisation which exists to protect your rights as a customer and provide you with free advice. They can be contacted using the address at the back of this booklet. In some circumstances, if we have failed to comply with our duties under the Water Industry Act 1991 and you have been caused loss or damage, your dispute may be referred to Ofwat or to legal arbitration. You can find details of this in our Guaranteed Service Standards Code of Practice, available by visiting stwater.co.uk or by calling For further information please read our What to do if you are unhappy with our service leaflet which is available at stwater.co.uk. 12. I am a tenant, when am I responsible for paying the bill? If you live in rented accommodation, it s not always easy to understand who is legally responsible for the bill. Our water charges have to be paid this is usually by the person who lives in the property and uses the water. Unless your landlord has entered into an agreement with us accepting responsibility for our charges, this means you have to pay the bill. If you have any problems or if your bill is for a previous tenant, please call us straight away; we can only help you if we know.
13 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill I am a landlord, when am I responsible for paying the bill? You are responsible for paying water charges if you don t have a tenant or if you have agreed with us that you will pay the bill. 14. I have individual needs how can you help? We need to know if you have individual needs so please contact us to join our Access register. Being on the register means you can access the following services: Correspondence in large print, Braille, electronic or audio formats Bill reading service Textphone service Confidential password to help identify our staff who may call at your door Special meter reading arrangements Special water supply arrangements if you are a home dialysis patient Help with the provision of free bottled water during a supply interruption For further information or if you wish to be added to our Access register, please contact us on We will take your details and arrange for our Access team to contact you or send an Access information pack. If a Severn Trent Water employee asks to come into your home, they will show you an ID card with their name and photograph on it. You can check their identity by calling and we will confirm if they are genuine. Do not call any other number they give you or accept any excuses. If you are in any doubt, do not let them in. For your protection, we have a password scheme which can protect you against bogus callers. For more information please download our Stop leaflet from stwater.co.uk or telephone to request a copy. If you use a textphone you can also contact us on
14 14 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill Customer Contact Centre peak times am pm peak moderate quieter am pm Contact numbers and addresses Our website is designed to provide you with answers and advice for many queries you may have. You can also pay your bill, apply for a meter, update your meter reading, check your water quality, change your address or report a leak. Visit us at stwater.co.uk For general enquiries or complaints about your bill, please contact our Customer Contact Centre on am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 1.00 pm Saturday You can also If English is not your first language and you need help, please call and ask for our Language Line service. For operational emergencies (water/burst mains/sewer blockages/sewer flooding/ dangerous apparatus) and general operational information or complaints about your water and sewerage services, please contact our Customer Operations Service Centre: The centre is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The postal address is: Severn Trent Water Ltd Customer Relations, PO Box 5310, Coventry CV3 9FJ If you use a textphone you can contact us on (available 24 hours a day). Our headquarters are located at: Severn Trent Centre 2 St. John s Street, Coventry CV1 2LZ Please note that if you are calling from a landline, our 0800 numbers are free of charge, our number is charged at the local rate and our 0845 number is charged at your operator s rate. Calls made from mobile phones will be charged at your operator s rates.
15 Severn Trent Water Paying your bill 15 If you would like to make an enquiry regarding your bill and your bill is issued by South Staffordshire Water or If you only receive sewerage services from Severn Trent Water, your water may be supplied by South Staffordshire Water Plc. In this case you should contact us if you have a query about your sewerage service and South Staffordshire Water if you have a query or complaint about your water supply or bills. Contact South Staffordshire Water at: South Staffordshire Water Plc Green Lane, Walsall, West Midlands WS2 7PD Or call: The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is there to review all issues that affect your interests as a water customer, liaise with us and make representations on your behalf. CCWater staff can give you free, independent advice on issues that affect you as a water customer and they will investigate any complaints that you can t resolve directly with us through our own complaints procedures. They will also advise you if the matter you have raised is a dispute that can be settled by our regulator, the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat). You can contact CCWater at: Consumer Council for Water 1st Floor Victoria Square House Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4AJ (general enquiries) (billing enquiries) (supply queries) ccwater.org.uk
16 This publication is available in alternative formats, including large print and Braille. For further information: Call Textphone Calls to 0800 numbers are free from UK landlines. Calls to 0345 numbers are charged at a local rate and when phoning from a mobile, may be included in your free minutes package. ST.WM C Severn Trent Water Ltd PO Box 5309 Coventry CV3 9FH
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