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New independent dispute resolution scheme for water customers

Water customers in England and Wales can now go to an independent adjudicator if their complaint has not been resolved by their water company and after intervention from the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

The Water Redress Scheme, or WATRS, will adjudicate on disputes relating to bills and payments, metering, water supply and wastewater sewerage services.

WATRS should provide fast resolution, aiming to make its decision within 20 working days of receiving an application. If WATRS supports a customer complaint, it will decide what action the company must take, including carrying out work or paying compensation for loss or damage.

The service will be free to use for the customer, and the adjudicator’s decision will be binding on the water company if accepted by the customer.

Pamela Taylor, Water UK Chief Executive, said: “Complaints against water companies have continued to fall in recent years and only a very few complaints end up deadlocked. This demonstrates that our services to customers are continuing to improve.

“But the industry believes we can do even more to help our customers if they feel things have gone wrong.

“This is why we have ensured there is now a place where customers can go for free, independent adjudication to resolve their complaint without having to go to court for their disputes.”

Complaints against water companies have fallen six years in a row and in the majority of cases companies offer a remedy that satisfies the customer. However, in a small number of cases, and after intervention from CCWater, disputes reach deadlock.

The WATRS scheme is being funded by the water companies but run independently by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) and overseen by an independent panel. The development of the scheme has been carried out by water companies working with Ofwat and CCWater.

More information on WATRS can be found at: www.watrs.org

If a customer wishes to complain, they should always contact their water company in the first instance.

Water UK Communication
0207 344 1852 / 07780 979499