Business Water Charges for Small Business's in rented or leased accommodation
Ok - what's this page about ? Its about SMALL business's who do not have a water supply, and thus no toilets of their own.
So what does this mean in practice ? It means they are asked to pay about £2 per visit to go to someone else's toilet. Imagine if O'Leary of Ryan Air had actually charged a Euro to use the toilet on a plane - and they are actually HIS toilets.
Is this the Scotland in which we wish to live ? A Scotland where small business's are seen as an untapped revenue source ?
So what happens is this:
- The Business gets hassled by Business Stream with non stop nuisance calls demanding payment. And of course this "harassment" of a small often one person business takes their eye off the ball and often results in the business collapsing.
- Then the "well known" debt collectors - actually in most people's view a most unpleasant firm of lawyers [Brodies] then start their bullying tactics - threats of court action, etc.
- Oh and I forgot: they usually send someone round to disconnect you from the water supply that doesn't exist. I think that is called an "empty threat"
Why does Business Stream do this ?
- Because they will harvest more money from the large numbers of small business's.
- Because it is easier to take money from smaller business's than larger ones.
The defence is simple:
The Scottish Government has stated that water charges should be based on the amount of water that the business actually uses. So if a business does NOT have a water supply, then it follows that they do not [cannot] use any water. The principle is outlined on the Scottish Government web site.
This can be confirmed by telephoning the Scottish Water Business Help line. On 17 February 2015, 16:50 the author of this paper [who incidentally is NOT in dispute with either Business Stream or Scottish Water] rang and spoke to a young man named Ryan. The record of the telephone call reads simply:
- a) all business water is metered
- b) no connection => no meter and => no charge.
So who should pay water charges ?
The answer is simple:
- The organisation who has the water meter, or a supply that can be metered.
- That organisation may then make available to others for a service charge the elements connected - viz toilets etc.
- This is especially true if said organisation makes use of such facilities themeselves and their contractors such as security and cleaning contractors.
In Detail, what "they say" is a palpable nonsense. [What they say is taken from verbatim from a typical invoice.]
- A yearly fee for the upkeep of pipes and pumps that supply your water.
- As your property doesn’t have a meter, we calculate your water usage charge based on the rateable value (RV) of your property multiplied by the rate for the period covered.
- A yearly fee for the upkeep of external pipes and pumps that remove waste water from your property.
- As your property doesn’t have a meter, we calculate your waste water charge based on the Rateable Value (RV) of your property multiplied by the rate for the period covered.
- As you’re connected to the public water and sewerage system, you’re charged for the cost of collecting and treating rain water from your property. Charges are based on the rateable value (RV) of your property, even if you’re exempt from commercial rates.
- This covers your contribution to the public roads drainage system and keeping the roads free from flooding. Charges are based on the rateable value (RV) of your property, even if you’re exempt from commercial rates.
So what are the "palpable nonsenses" ?
- No water is supplied to the business .... so that should be ZERO
- The property is not a property on its own. Its a room in a huge building belonging to someone else.... so that should be ZERO
- The unit does not have any drain to remove the water that in any event is not supplied.... so that should be ZERO
- See Item 2.
- The unit does not have a roof. Its in a multi story building belonging to someone else.... so that should be ZERO
- But of the several people involved in the business - all part time, only two have a car - the rest walk and use public transport... so that should be ZERO as the car users only visit occasionally.
But there's more nonsense - the Water Use Re-Assessment Calculator
The Water Commissioner for Scotland in a recent email has affirmed his ruling as follows:
An alternative charging mechanism for those customers is called assessed or reassessed charges. Under reassessed charges, an estimation is made of how much water is used by the customer, and the customer is then charged as if they had a meter. Customers who cannot have a meter installed for physical reasons are often on reassessed charges.
So how much water does a small business use ? Good question now that a realistic assessment on what they ACTUALLY use can be made. AND if the business does NOT have a connection - or point of supply - then it is self evident that the business has a ZERO consumption.
The nonsense comes with the on-line re-assessment calculator provided by Business Stream.
So what is wrong with it ?
- There is NO assessment item for the TYPE of business. For example a bottling plant will use enormous amounts of water cleaning bottles, but have hardly any staff. A Cash and Carry warehouse will have a huge roof and a huge car park but hardly any people.
- The rateable value has absolutely NO CONNECTION arithmetically to the water consumed within the premises.
- In the Water Use section:
- There is no option for "There is no supply point".
- There is no option for "We do not have any toilets, etc"
The conclusion is simple: The calculator is simply not fit for its purpose. The question is whether this was done deliberately ? The answer to that simple question has to be YES.
And that implies that Business Stream are "at it". So the next question is "who are the people who caused this aberration ?" And that is really about who is accountable, or rather who ought to be accountable. The dictionary definition is interesting - especially Item 3 on the list.
The Directors etc - Public Information from Companies House
Scottish Water Business Stream Holdings Limited (SC332622)
Scottish Water Business Stream Limited (SC294924)
Business Stream Ltd (SC332092)
Is Business Stream a Quality Company ?
Their web site does not show or say anything about the quality of their business. For example:
- Are they accredited to ISO 9001 - The International Standard for Quality Management ?
- Do they operate a Complaints Management Procedure that meets ISO 10002 ?
- Do they conform to the requirements of ISO 27001 (Information Security) ?
Certainly the web site is very pretty and is obviously designed to give a good impression. But the answers to the above are NO, NO, and probably not.
Business Stream cannot be trusted - as they do not adopt a certified "best practice".
And in practice, they demonstrate their lack of integrity and that they are not interested in anything but harvesting as much money as they can by causing maximum distress by "perverting" the due process of law. Most people would try and go to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman [SPSO] - but water is no longer a public service, and in any event the SPSO is an ineffective and thus virtually useless organisation.
The Due Process of Law
The law is a necessary requirement for the conduct of society.
However it can be misused as bullying tactic and it often is.
What are the "tricks" that can be got up to by Buisness Stream and their lawyers.
The Email Trickery
To deal with the situation by email. When you send an email to Brodie's Debt Collection office, their email server sends out an acknowledgement. That means that legally they have received the communication, and it was received in good order.
Then they repsond by email.
When you respond to that email requesting information .... NO automatic reply is received. The object of this is to confusticate the proceedings. Simply put the email address from which the email was sent is "black listed". Again, the dictionary definition is interesting.
The solution to this is simply to resend the email using a different email address - and sure enough back comes an acknowledgement
Turning a request for information into a complaint
Having received your request for them to provide information, they record this as a complaint. What they ought to have done is to provide chapter and verse as to why they think that they are entitled to levy water charges.
The complaint is acknowledged and allocated a reference number.
Nothing further is heard. Nor will it be until the expected writ arrives.
Failing to answer a complaint
This is a necessary to further obfuscate the proceedings. It of course does nothing to resolve the problems.