The purpose of this factsheet is to explain what Rateable Value (RV) is, how your RV is determined and to provide advice on how your billing method can be changed.
All customers, whether household or non-household, are billed on a measured or unmeasured basis. Measured customers have a meter and are billed for their consumption as recorded by their meter. Unmeasured customers are billed based on the RV of their property.
The RV charges are billed annually from 1 April each year to 31 March the following year and are payable in advance, on 1 April. Your company can arrange a payment plan for you to spread the cost throughout the year. You will pay a fixed amount per pound of RV. For example, if the RV of your property is 103, and your company water charge is £1.25 per unit, you would pay an annual charge of 103 x £1.25; £128.75.
What is RV?
If you do not have a water meter, your charges will normally be based on the RV of the property, which was allocated by the District Valuer of the former Inland Revenue. It was used for local taxation purposes before the introduction of the community charge, which was later replaced by council tax. The final listing of RVs was produced on 31 March 1991 and was then closed.
The District Valuer’s office notified each water company of the RVs in its area, and it is normally now impossible to find out why different valuations were sometimes given to properties that appear very similar. A property’s RV was worked out by taking into account a number of factors, including location, amenities available, internal fittings etc. These amenities may have changed since 1990. Sometimes a council office or local library might have records of the 1990 valuations, but in most cases they have been destroyed by now.
Your water company/retailer can confirm the rateable value they are using to calculate your bill, but don’t have the power to alter or replace it. There is no mechanism for appealing against a rateable value.
The government has not approved an alternative means of charging for unmetered water services and allows water companies to continue using the RV set at 31 March 1990. This is set out in law, in Section 8 of the Water Industry Act 1999, which replaced Section 145 of the Water Industry Act 1991. Companies are not allowed to use council tax bandings. This is why your rateable value does not change even if your council tax banding is adjusted.
Can an RV be changed?
No, an RV cannot be changed. The RV system is no longer in use and all properties built after 1990 have been required to have water meters put in. Because the RV system is so out of date there is no mechanism for the review of individual RVs and they cannot be changed. The only alternative to RV charges is having a water meter installed.
What if a property has changed significantly since the RV was set?
If a property is divided into separate units, or significantly altered in any way, the RV becomes invalid. Each company has its own policy on what charge will apply in this situation. Some may apply a notional RV, others may apply an assessed charge or insist that a meter be fitted.
Does RV reflect my usage?
Unmetered water and sewerage charges based on the RV are fixed charges and do not reflect the amount of water used in a property or how many people live there. This means that the same annual charge would be paid by a single occupier or a family of five.
What alternative is there to an RV charge?
If you feel the RV applied to your property is not indicative of your consumption, you can apply to have a meter installed. Your water company or retailer should arrange for a survey to be carried out at your property to determine if a meter can be installed to record your consumption. If approved, a meter will be installed and you will proceed to be billed based on the readings taken from your meter.
Your metered charges will normally be applicable from the date of your application for a meter to be installed. Metered charges will not be backdated and there are no grounds for this to be challenged unless you have made an earlier application for a meter to be installed and this has gone unanswered.
Metering usually benefits customers who live in properties with high rateable values and use little water. You can use the water meter calculator on CCW’s website, https://www.ccwater.org.uk/watermetercalculator to get an idea of how much you could expect your metered water bill to be. If a water meter doesn’t reduce your bill, you can go back to an unmeasured charge, but normally only within 24 months of the meter being fitted. However, the meter will not be removed and future occupants will have to pay metered bills.
If a meter cannot be installed at your property, due to the setup of your pipework for example, your water company or retailer are required to offer you an alternative to the RV charge. This is so that you are not unreasonably disadvantaged by not being able to have a meter. The alternative charge is known as an Assessed Charge and is based on average bills paid by customers who do have meters.
There is no common method used by all companies to work out assessed charges. Some companies have a single assessed charge, while others have a range of charges linked, for example, to the number of bedrooms in a property, or to the number of occupants. The figures used by your company are approved by the regulator, Ofwat.
If you cannot have a meter you will usually pay the Assessed Charge from the date of the survey. Normally, the charge will only apply if it is lower than your RV charge. However, there are exceptions to this. In some areas where all properties are being metered, if you cannot have a meter fitted you may be moved onto the Assessed Charge even if it is higher than your current RV charge.
If you are paying the Assessed Charge you should notify the company if there are any changes which might affect the charge you are paying, for example if the number of occupants in your home changes.
Like RV charges, the Assessed Charge is fixed for each charging year (1 April to 31 March) and becomes due in advance on 1 April.