Many water authorities are currently looking at ways to maximise their revenue and part of this drive has been to ensure that undercharges on their customers accounts, including many schools, are identified and retrospective payments obtained. One of the approaches that the water authorities have adopted has been to establish a team of consultants to work on unearthing undercharges by auditing their customer’s accounts and their water supplies.
We have been engaged by many organisations who have recently have fallen foul of this and been presented with very large retrospective charges. Just last week we were dealing with a water authority on behalf of a client who had been presented with a £143k retrospective liability, discovered when the water authority were given access to their site. What many organisations aren’t aware of is that these retrospective charges are not a fait accompli and that you can challenge them.
It is important to understand that once you engage with the water authority it is not the same as dealing with an independent company and they will not be working solely and confidentially on your behalf, as an independent water consultant would be where any information is for your eyes only. A water authority will seek payment for any undercharges that they might discover.
However, just as we constantly find that they are guilty of overcharging our customers, we also find that the undercharges that they seek payment for are not, in many circumstances, accurately calculated, and in some case are completely unjustified. Our advice to you if you find yourself in this situation is to call in the expertise of an independent consultancy. Most operate on a ‘no savings, no fee’ model and so offer a financially ‘risk-free’ option to get the water company findings independently verified. This gives you the potential opportunity to reduce or possibly even eliminate completely these liabilities.
By Greg Shelton, Director, Water Audit Services, expert support to ensure businesses not only reduce water expenses but also ensure efficient usage.