What standards are guaranteed by water and sewerage companies?
The Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) provides minimum standards of service for customers required by the regulator, Ofwat. If your company fails to keep to a standard, it must make you a fixed payment or credit that amount to your water services account. Some of the GSS payments are different for business customers.
The Guaranteed Standard Scheme covers:
- Making appointments – you must be told that a visit will be made either in the morning or afternoon or if requested by you, within a specified two hour time slot. If the company fails to tell you, you are entitled to £20.
- Keeping appointments – the company representative must visit on the stated day, before or after 1pm as notified, within the 2-hour time slot (if requested) or give at least 24 hours’ notice of cancellation. If the company fails on any of these, you are entitled to £20.
- Low water pressure – the company must make sure the pressure is at least 7 metres head (0.7bar) pressure in the communication pipe, normally measured at the outside stop valve (OSV). If the company fails to do this on two occasions lasting more than 1 hour within a 28-day period, you are entitled to £25. Customers in Wales must claim the payment. There are some circumstances in which a GSS payment will not be made.
- Notice of supply interruption – the company must tell you in writing (normally by a card through your door) at least 48 hours (24 hours in Wales) before they carry out planned work which will interrupt or cut off your water supply for more than 4 hours. They must also tell you when they expect to restore your supply. If the company fails to tell you, you are entitled to £20 (£50 for business customers) Customers in Wales must claim the payment.
- Supply restoration – the company must restore the water supply by the time stated in the notice, or within 12 hours of them becoming aware if it was an emergency due to a leak or burst on a water main (48 hours in the case of a trunk main). If the company fails on any of these, you are entitled to £20 (£50 for business customers), plus an extra £10 (£25 for business customers) for each full 24-hour period that the supply is interrupted or cut off. There are some circumstances in which a GSS payment will not be made.
- Written complaints – the company must send you a full reply within 10 working days of receiving a letter or email complaining about your supply of water or sewerage services. If the company needs to visit or make external enquiries, it must send you a holding letter within 10 working days explaining why it cannot send you a full reply now and giving you the name and telephone number of the company employee who you can contact about your complaint. It must send you a full reply within 20 working days of receiving your complaint. If the company fails to reply in time, you are entitled to £20. There are some circumstances in which a GSS payment will not be made.
- Sewer flooding
- Inside: you are entitled to a payment equal to your total sewerage charges for the charging year or £1,000 (whichever is less) if waste water from the company’s sewer enters your property (including a garage). If there is more than one incident in a charging year, you are entitled to a payment for each incident.
- Outside: if there is outside sewer flooding on your land or property, the company must make a GSS payment of 50% of your annual sewerage charge, up to a maximum £500. You must claim this payment from the company within three months of the incident.
There are some circumstances in which a GSS payment will not be made for sewer flooding. These are if the incident was caused by:
- exceptional weather conditions
- industrial action by the company’s employees
- your own actions
- a defect, inadequacy or blockage in your own drains or sewers
- if it is not practical for the company to have identified that you are affected, and you haven’t made a claim within three months following the date on which the sewage came into your building
If the company fails to make a GSS payment within a specified period (unless it is one where you are required to claim and you have not done so), you are entitled to an extra payment. Contact your water company if you feel this applies to you.
You can read a more complete version of the guaranteed standards (pdf) You can read the legal statutory instrument (SI2008/594) containing the GSS regulations online.