We’re here to fight your corner and ensure that your business’ credit is better protected. That’s why we’ve launched our ‘Credit where it’s due’ campaign. Select the relevant section below to find out more about this important campaign and what it means for the rights of your business.

Business customers in England

We want all businesses to be confident that their money is protected if their water retailer were to exit the market. As part of our ‘Credit Where It’s Due’ campaign we’re calling on Ofwat to bring in greater protections for businesses. We are also calling on retailers and companies to be clearer in their communications with customers about what credit they have on their accounts.

The credit building on your account

It may suit your business to pay your bill in advance, or by Direct Debit. By doing so, your account may be accruing credit. In a lot of cases, this is not a problem if your water usage remains the same. However, if your businesses usage fluctuates, for example, if your business was affected during the pandemic, you may now have a sizeable credit balance.

In these uncertain times, we believe everyone should have all the information they need to make financial decisions that best suit them. Businesses should have a greater understanding of how much credit is on their account, so they can not only request a refund if they wish, but also change payment method if they are concerned that their current one is causing too much credit to build up.

Your rights

The industry regulator, Ofwat, is now requiring all retailers to provide the following information to all their customers who have accrued credit:

  • the amount of credit on their account;
  • what the credit relates to (e.g., security deposit, an allowance refund, money paid in advance etc.)
  • advice that the customer can contact the retailer to explore alternative payment terms, or if they can obtain a credit refund (if available);
  • they may be able to switch to an alternative retailer, if their contract allows, if they are not satisfied with the terms on offer.

This is required to have been done by 20th July 2022, and from that point on, to be provided in writing to customers at a minimum of once every 3 months.

Over the coming months, we will be there to ensure that retailers are communicating this information to you as clearly as possible. Alongside these requirements, it is also important that retailers refund your credit as quickly as possible, if that’s something you have requested. If this is not happening as it should, we will work with retailers to improve their processes.


Alternative Payment Options

Your business may pay in advance for your water services. This is mainly the case if your business does not have a meter, but it can also be applicable to those on a meter too. Paying in such a way may suit your business if your usage is unlikely to change. However, you may not have chosen this payment method if this is what your retailer’s default tariff is based on. You might prefer to pay in arrears, so it is important that customers should be fully aware of the different payment options on offer from their retailer.

If you are paying in advance, there is also a risk that the amounts you have paid will not be recoverable in the unlikely event that your retailer becomes insolvent and exits the market. It is vital that businesses are aware of the risks of paying in advance, as well as the benefits. Retailers making this clear will allow you to make a more informed choice as to whether to continue paying in this way, or opt for an alternative.

Your rights

Ofwat, now requires retailers to advise all their customers paying in advance of the risks, and benefits, of this payment method. This needs to be done at the point of agreeing a new contract based on advance payment. If you already pay in this way, your retailer should have provided you something in writing by 20 July 2022, with this then repeated on an annual basis.

We believe this requirement is the right thing to do for those paying in advance, and we will be working with retailers to ensure that this is being communicated in a way that is understandable.


Annual Refund of Credit

The recent crisis in the energy sector has shone on a light on the risks of an open market. In the event your retailer were to become insolvent, there is a risk that any credit accrued would be lost. The current cost of living crisis means that most people cannot afford to lose money should this situation arise.

We hope that many businesses will become more aware of their credit levels as a result of the recently introduced requirements from Ofwat. However, we believe this should go further. This is why we will be campaigning for retailers to be required to refund customer credit on an annual basis. This will ensure businesses receive much needed cash back, and stand less chance of losing this in the unlikely event of their retailer going out of business.

However, we still recognise that customer choice is important too, and you may prefer to keep your credit on your account. This is why our campaign will also include a call for businesses to opt out of the automatic refund if they so wish.

Your rights

If you have decided to switch retailer, it is important that when your account transfers, any credit comes with it. However, there was no actual requirement for retailers to make sure this was being repaid in such instances. It’s therefore positive that, since 20th April 2022, Ofwat requires this to happen within 60 days from the date they issued their final bill to you. If you switched before this date, you might have had credit on your account which was never refunded. If you are concerned that this situation might apply to you, we would urge you to contact your previous retailer for more information.

Business customers in Wales

As part of our ‘Credit Where It’s Due’ campaign we’re calling on Ofwat to bring in greater protections for businesses. We are also calling on companies to be clearer in their communications with customers about what credit they have on their accounts.

The credit building on your account

It may suit your business to pay your bill in advance, or by Direct Debit. By doing so, your account may be accruing credit. In a lot of cases, this is not be a problem if your water usage remains the same. However, if your businesses usage fluctuates, for example, if your business was affected during the pandemic, you may now have a sizeable credit balance.

In these uncertain times, we believe everyone should have all the information they need to make financial decisions that best suit them. Businesses should have a greater understanding of how much credit is on their account, so they can not only request a refund if they wish, but also change payment method if they are concerned that their current one is causing too much credit to build up.

We believe companies should be regularly communicating with business customers to inform them about the amount of credit on their account, and other payment options that may be available. They should also be processing refunds as quickly as possible if this is something you request. We have already written to the two companies in Wales – Dwr Cymru Welsh Water & Hafren Dyfrdwy – to urge them to start communicating this information if they do not already do so. We will also be working with them to improve their processes if we feel this is needed.


Annual Refund of Credit

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing cost of living crisis recent crisis, has caused financial hardship for many businesses. In a time where every penny counts, we believe that business customers cannot afford to be without any credit that may be owed to them by their water company.

We hope that many businesses will become more aware of their credit levels as a result of our campaign for companies to increase awareness in this area. However, we believe more can be done. We will be also campaigning for your water company to automatically refund your credit balance to you on an annual basis, unless you have expressly asked for this to remain on your account. We think that most businesses will benefit from the financial boost that they will receive from this, so we will be working with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water & Hafren Dyfrdwy to introduce this policy over the coming months.