Important changes to the way you pay for your water and wastewater
Thames Water are changing the way that council tenants pay for their water and wastewater. We have answered some of the commonly asked questions here about these upcoming changes.
What is changing?
The way council tenants pay for their water and wastewater is changing. Up until now, the water and wastewater bill has been included in the overall amount paid to the council, but this is changing for all Islington tenants. The council will stop charging tenants for water and wastewater and Thames Water will start charging them directly.
This change will affect all residents who live in local authority or housing association properties. Leaseholders are already billed directly by Thames Water.
When is this changing?
These changes will take place from 1 April 2021.
Why wasn’t I consulted about these changes?
Thames Water made the decision to change the way water and wastewater bills are paid and we had no option to consult tenants about this. Thames Water have decided that it is simpler, clearer and more beneficial for tenants if all water and wastewater charges are billed directly by Thames Water.
Thames Water no longer use external organisations such as councils to collect the water and wastewater charges. They have worked with other councils to make this change and Islington is one of the last boroughs to carry out these changes. There is no option to opt out of these changes as we will no longer have an agreement with Thames Water to collect payments on their behalf.
What do I need to do?
Nothing right now. In early 2021 Thames Water will set up accounts for everyone who will need to pay them directly. Details of how to do this will be sent to you.
Will my overall costs go up now I have two separate bills?
Your rent/charges that are paid to the council will go down as the water and wastewater will no longer be part of the rent/charge. However, the amount you pay overall will not go down as you will still be paying for your water and wastewater, but directly to Thames Water instead of via Islington Council who then pay Thames Water.
This change will happen in April 2021, at the same time as rents increase, so while most tenants will pay the council a lower amount, some people may not due to the rent increase and service charge increase. Rents and service charges will increase as they do each year and these increases are not related to the change in water and wastewater billing.
We were only ever responsible for billing, not the setting of the charges themselves, which are set by the water companies and regulated by Ofwat. You will not lose any consumer protections through the changes.
How can vulnerable tenants be supported through this process?
We will work with Thames Water to ensure vulnerable tenants are supported in this change. Thames Water have a priority services register that vulnerable people can sign up to, you can find out more on their website.
We work with SHINE London who can help assess the needs of vulnerable tenants and refer them to the Thames Water discount scheme. SHINE can also help tenants save money on their energy bills, find out more on their website.
I’m in rent arrears, who do I pay?
If you are in rent arrears all previous arrears will be collected by Islington Council.
I’m struggling to pay my bills, can you help me? If you are struggling to pay your bills, it is essential you seek help as soon as possible.
Islington Council work with SHINE, a fuel poverty referral network and free energy advice service for Londoners. You can visit their website, email them firstname.lastname@example.org or call them 0300 555 0195 to find out more.
Thames Water have a scheme called Water Help for low-income households, you can find out more on their website.
Citizens Advice Islington can give free, confidential and independent advice on paying bills, rent and mortgage. You can contact them via their free advice line 0808 278 7836, Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm.
Can Thames Water disconnect my water supply?
No, even if you owe them money, Thames Water can’t, by law, disconnect the water supply of domestic customers.
What happens next?
In early 2021 Thames Water will write to you explaining what you need to do to set up your account with them.
Can I switch to a water meter between now and 1 April 2021?
You can contact us to let us know you wish to be considered for a water meter (please contact the Income Recovery Officers) and we will pass the details onto Thames Water who will then contact you to see if it is possible to install a water meter. It is not possible to install water meters in all our blocks.
If I have a question, how can I get in touch?
If your question hasn't been answered above you can contact our Home and Communities team on 020 7527 5300.
For information on how to pay your bill, how to have a water meter fitted and to see if you are eligible for any help through the Water Help scheme for low-income households, contact Thames Water by free phone 0800 009 4238, Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-1pm or visit their website.