A NEW “rain water tax” could lead to crippling increases in drainage bills for sports clubs, charities and places of worship.
Huw Irranca-Davies, the environment minister, said companies had to take account of what voluntary groups could afford.
“We expect the water companies to adopt a more compassionate and understanding approach to the sometimes quite astronomical increases in bills that happened last year,” he told the Guardian. Irranca-Davies accused some companies of making mistakes that had led to overcharging.
Drainage bills for voluntary groups and places of worship were previously based on rateable value, often calculated as zero. In April, several water companies started charging the full cost of draining rainwater from roofs, car parks and other surfaces with no natural drainage.
Thousands of groups including the Church of England, Scouts, village hall associations, sports clubs, charities and some schools have protested about having to cut back on their activities or face closure so as to pay the bills – which in some cases have risen by 1,000% or more.
A petition against the charges is the most popular on the No 10 website, with more than 41,000 signatures.
YourThurrock spoke to Scout Leader Rob Groves about how the charges could effect the great number of Scout Groups in Thurrock.
The Scouts estimate that the new charges will cost its groups an additional £1.5m a year. Bills at the 1st Weston and Weston Point scout group, in Cheshire, have risen from £40 a year to £564. The Church of England says its water bills will increase by £15m a year, while the Penrith rugby union football club could see its annual bill rise from £671 to £4,105.