Householders in Milton Keynes advised to check their property deeds after entire estate claims back £75,000 refund on water bills
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Families on Stratford Park in Wolverton are now urging people in other parts of MK to check their property deeds and their water bills to see if they can claim the same refund.
The charge refers to surface water drainage, which is for rainfall that falls on a property and drains away into public sewers.
If the drains are owned by Anglian Water or similar water companies, then an average charge of between £30 and £35 a year applies.
But if they are privately owned, as was the case for all 378 households on Stratford Park, there is no charge.
The problem is that Anglian Water has no way of knowing if the drains are private, and say the onus is on the individual resident to check.
The recent payback saga was started by Stratford Park resident householder James McGeever, who read about the drainage charges suggestion on Snoop, a new fintech app that uses Open Banking to provide personalised money-saving insights.
James successfully challenged Anglian Water himself and won a backdated £230 refund. He then spread the word to other Wolverton Mill residents - who are now claiming back an estimated £75,000 for the past eight years, says Snoop.
It is now believed people living on other estates and developments in MK may also be paying too much to the water company.
“After I successfully claimed £230 back I started chatting to my neighbours and we soon realised the rest of my estate had been overcharged for the last eight years too. I’ve worked out that my community is due a rebate of over £75,000 from Anglian Water and what’s more, it looks like other new estates in the area are also being overcharged so there’s more to run on this one," said James.
"I’m very grateful to Snoop for the top tip. It’s definitely the most valuable app on my phone.”
Scott Mowbray, co-founder at Snoop, said: “A potential £75,000 rebate for one community is a fantastic result and is why we created Snoop - to help consumers put money back in their pocket and keep big businesses honest. The water companies collect around £1 billion for surface water drainage and many people don’t know they’re paying it, and don’t need to pay it.
He added: "We’re calling for Anglian Water to stop digging their heels in, make sure consumers aren’t overpaying on their bills and are repaid what’s owed. We will be paying close attention to other water companies across the UK to save many more households and housing developments from quite literally throwing money down the drain.”
A spokesman for Anglian Water said details about surface water rebates for your information which can be found on its website here .
She said: "This explains that customers whose homes are not connected to the surface water drains are entitled to a reduction on their sewerage bill. Since a reduced charge for non-connected properties was introduced in 2000, we have asked customers to let us know if their charge is incorrect.
"In order to qualify for a reduced sewerage charge, all of the surface water from the property must go into a soakaway. This information can usually be found on property deeds and we would need to see evidence of every individual property’s deeds.
"As property deeds are not accessible to Anglian Water, we rely on our customers to contact us if they think they have a soakaway and are entitled to the rebate. We’ve promoted this advice through customer letters and leaflets, our website and reminders on their bills."
If the property was built before 2000, Anglian will backdate the reduction to April 2013 (the start of that financial year).
If the property was built after 2000 and you have never been connected to the surface water drains, Anglian will backdate the reduction up to maximum of six years or the resident's occupation date, whichever is the lesser.