We at South Staffs Water Business understand that these continue to be worrying and unsettling times for everybody, both personally and professionally. Please be assured that we remain steadfast in our efforts to mitigate any effect Covid-19 has had on our service whilst following and reacting to all Government guidance in order to reduce the spread of the virus and protect our staff and the wider community.

As a business ourselves, we are not immune to the effects of the virus control measures that are affecting you. As Government restrictions have recently tightened,  our priorities are still to look after our staff and to continue to serve our customers to the best of our ability. We are working closely with all Water Wholesalers who also have plans in place to ensure that their services continue at the highest level throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. You should continue to contact your Wholesaler directly for any water quality and supply interruption concerns and we will keep in contact with you concerning any wholesaler guidance. If you are closing and opening your business premise(s), with so much focus upon keeping your employees and customers safe, please ensure you take steps to ensure the water on site is also safe to use.

As an active market participant, we are supportive of all groups and activities that seek to improve market outcomes. PWS is keen to ensure the outputs of the Retail Wholesale Group (RWG) are known and available to all customers. There are a number of good practice guides that have been produced which we encourage you to note on the following link:

https://www.mosl.co.uk/groups/rwg#scroll-good-practice-guides

Also, please see the below for additional detail on our safety approach. Please click here to see a copy of our risk assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is South Staffs Water Business' advice

Click here to read out customer statement

Q. How do I contact you?

All of our customer contact channels remain open as usual but with 100% of our staff working from home, the best and safest contact method for us is email rather than phone or post. Please use customerservices@sswbusiness.co.uk
We continue to operate at full capacity and continue to offer you the high level of service you have been accustomed to. 

Q. What do I do if my business was or is temporarily closed, permanently closed or using much less water and I have not notified you?

Please click here and you'll find instructions on the process for informing us. If your business is or needs to close we recommend that you isolate your water supply at the point at which is enters your business, providing you are able to do so safely. If you operate a small business a local plumber will be able to assist if you have trouble locating your supply point entry or if you are unable to operate valves. Isolating your water supply will help to stop consumption through leaks, keeping your charges as low as possible. As we enter the winter period it may also help to prevent some pipes from freezing if your premise is unheated.

To help us bill you accurately, you must let us know immediately when your business either closes or re-opens if you have been closed during Covid-19. You can do this by emailing us. Please include your account number and the date of when your business closed or reopened. Please also ensure you provide us with as much information as possible as to your trading status since March with any information you hold over your water usage. This will allow us to bill you as accurately as possible.  

Q. Am I entitled to a payment holiday/freeze/reduction during any local lockdown period?

During the first National lockdown period earlier this year the regulator, OFWAT, amended the market codes which retailers and wholesalers abide by to allow temporary vacation of business premises. In some cases this may have suspended some fixed charges due to be levied. Currently, there is no such relief or allowance for a temporary period if you need to close your business under the second National lockdown measures. All fixed and variable water and sewerage charges remain due and must be paid. However, we do appreciate this a difficult time for all businesses including our own so please contact us if you are unable to pay legacy or new charges.  

In line with the latest Customer Protection Code of Practice and in particular around for support for our customers currently affected by Covid-19 we have published our Covid-19 Repayment Scheme. This details our payment arrangements for customers that were directly affected by Covid-19 during the National lockdown period and how we classified customers as affected and therefore their eligibility to the repayment options. Please note this scheme is no longer in operation and only refers to the National lockdown period and for those businesses affected by this period
Click here for more information

Q What happens if I am unable to pay my water/wastewater bills temporarily?

If you are unable to pay your bill(s) due to the impact of Covid-19 you can get in touch easily by emailing us.  Due to the impact of COVID-19, and as your water retailer, you can be reassured that we will NOT be implementing any of the following for overdue balances between 8th April to 31st May or until such time as we notify you otherwise via our website

(a) serving disconnection notices for the non-payment of bills or invoices;
(b) seeking to recover any default interest or impose late payment charges for the non-payment of invoices issued from 1 March 2020;
(c) seeking to enforce the non-payment of invoices.

It is important to note, that this is for a limited period only and any updates will be available on this website.

However, where possible, if you can continue to pay your bills on time, then you should do so to avoid accruing larger than usual balances.

Q. I have heard there may be financial support for my business from the Government. Is this true?

The Government has issued advice for support for employers and businesses. You can find out more by visiting the following website and by checking in on a regular basis to review updates:
www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses 

Q. Will I continue to still receive bills?

Yes. Depending upon your bill cycle and whether you were on the Government list of businesses that must close you may have your charges adjusted to account for any suspended wholesale fixed charges during any period of enforced closure. Your charges for part of the whole of your charging period may be estimated as part of actions to comply with Government social distancing guidelines. We encourage all of our customers to regularly read their own water meter if it is safe to do so to check for leaks. See how to submit a meter reading in this FAQ. Please notify us if you are closing and if you cannot read your meter we will make every effort to put an accurate estimate into our billing system

Q How do I Receive my Bills if my Premises are still closed or my staff are still Furloughed and we are operating remote working?

You can go on-line and register your temporary contact details. Please note any bills issued before the date of the form submission will not go to the new address. You will need to request these bills directly from us or download them from MyAccount. Click here to change your contact details

Q. How do I Pay my Bill?

You can log into the ‘My Account’ section of our website or through one of the methods on the reverse of your bill. Please do not send cheques. During this difficult period, if your account is paid up-to-date and you would like to sign-up for a regular direct debit payment to ease your cash flow and have one less thing to worry about, you can sign up here.

If you have any problems, you can call our customer service team on: 0330 123 0205.   

Q. I run a business which serves beer and I need to dispose of out of date product which can no longer be sold. How do I do this?

The thought of beer disposal is truly saddening. Disposing of beer and other alcoholic drinks down the sewer can be damaging to Wholesaler's sewerage treatment processes and damaging to the environment. They have clear links on their websites requesting contact should you need to do this. Please contact them before you carry out any disposal activity.

Some wholesalers(s) are waiving fees to dispose of beer down the public sewer providing the approach and timing is permitted. You can contact your wholesaler directly to discuss beer disposal.

For more information, visit: https://www.water.org.uk/news-item/water-uk-and-british-beer-pub-association-urge-operators-to-apply-imminently-for-beer-disposal/  

Q. My business looks after vulnerable customers, will Covid-19 temporary restrictions create a risk of supply to my business?

When there is a loss of water, at any time, water wholesalers have well established plans in place to fulfil their obligations to provide emergency supplies. During these unprecedented times, wholesalers have acted swiftly and comprehensively to protect their employees, customers and the communities they serve. Whilst emergencies remain their top priority, they continue to operate all essential services.

Under the Security and Emergency Measures Directions (SEMD), licensed water suppliers (wholesalers) are required to deliver to you 10 litres of water, per person, per day within the first 24 hours of loss of water and 20 litres per person, per day within 72 hours of an outage.  This may not be enough for you to run your essential services. We recommend you review your water contingency plans to allow for a potential loss of water if you’re providing essential and mandatory services.

If you have any concerns about how your business would deal with temporary supply restrictions or supply outages, please contact us for advice.

Q. Will my water meter have been read? 

From the 25th March 2020, we ceased meter reading in all areas. The decision was not taken lightly but it was felt that as part of the fight against the Covid–19 virus we needed to limit social interactions between our meter readers, members of the public and our customers. We recommenced meter reading services in June so any bills issued over this period may have used estimates.

Over this period we continued to use actual meter readings from logged and Automatic Meter Readers (AMR) and from customers. If you’re able to take meter reads, please do so and submit them through our MyAccount portal or by clicking here.

We would stress that above all you should only take a meter read if you’re able to do so safely. You should not put yourself in any harm through trying to lift covers, work in the road or work at height or any other activity that might be harmful. 

Our metering teams have now restarted their schedules and we will update our estimates with actual readings when we have them. This may result in adjustments between billing periods, especially if your site has experienced leakage during any vacant period. If you have recently experienced a leak which increased your consumption above your normal levels or if you are having problems paying your bill please let us know. Our meter reading levels have not returned to pre-pandemic levels because social distancing rules prevent access. Therefore we do ask you to read your meter and send it to us if you can do so safely.

Q. Do I still need to pay my bill if I am subject to Insolvency proceedings?
If you are a trading as a limited company and become subject to formal insolvency proceedings such as Liquidation or Administration is important that you advise the insolvency practitioner dealing with your case that you have outstanding liabilities to us. The insolvency practitioner will contact us regarding your case and we will be added to the list of creditors.

If you are not trading as a limited company i.e. you are a sole trader, you will remain personally liable for any debts that have been accrued by the business. To prevent any recovery action it is therefore important that you contact us as soon as possible to clear any outstanding invoices due. In the event that you are unable to settle your account in full we may be able to agree a short term payment arrangement to clear your liabilities.

Kindly note PWS investigates premises where there has been instances of Insolvency, and may request a commercial deposit to be paid by the next tenant or landlord accordingly. This may result in the commercial water supply being disconnected until such time as PWS is satisfied the deposit has been paid or risk mitigated.