Many of you have told us of your frustration with getting a bill from South East Water for your household drinking water, and another one from Southern Water for your wastewater services.
So we’re really pleased to be teaming up with Southern Water to launch 'One Bill' – a single bill from South East Water that will also include Southern Water’s charges too.
Designed to make things simpler for our shared customers, One Bill will mean in future you will only need to contact one company – South East Water – to make payments for both of the services you receive!
We’re aiming to give customers a ‘five out of five’ service in everything we do and hope you really like your new One Bill.
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What do I need to do next?
Simply, you don’t need to do anything at all as we will work with Southern Water. In future, your One Bill from South East Water will also include your wastewater charges from Southern Water, which means one household bill for both services.
When will One Bill happen?
We’re starting to transfer accounts from August 2017. On your next bill from South East Water after this point - we will simply add Southern Water’s wastewater charges so you don’t need to do anything. Customers who have a water meter will be the first to see their One Bill, with unmetered customers following shortly after.
Why is One Bill happening?
Customers have told us that separate bills for water and wastewater services is frustrating, and we’re providing One Bill to make paying for water and wastewater services much simpler. We’re committed to providing a 5 out of 5 service to our customers at the lowest possible cost, and One Bill will help in the delivery of both of these commitments.
With One Bill, there’s just one company – South East Water – to get in touch with if you have a bill query, want to make a payment, or want to tell us you’re moving house. There’ll also be savings for both South East Water and Southern Water, which will be reinvested back into areas such as water quality improvements and capital investment.
Ultimately any change that helps us reduce costs means future bills are lower than they would otherwise have been.
What will happen to my Southern Water account?
When we send you your new One Bill, your Southern Water account will be closed, but they will keep a record of your previous charges and payments for information.
How have you merged the South East Water and Southern Water accounts?
In order to merge our records and create your One Bill, we have worked with Southern Water to match our customer records.
We’ve followed an agreed approach to ensure we are billing the same customer, which in some cases will have resulted in the correction of misspellings, the replacing of initials with full names and the replacement of single-name accounts with joint-name accounts, and vice versa. We’ve also matched accounts where both companies held the same customer bank details.
If we’ve not yet been able to match customer details, we may need to confirm our information, which may mean that some customers may receive their first One Bill at a later date, or that both services are billed going forward only.
As an unmeasured customer, what if I pay by more instalments with Southern Water than I do with South East Water?
We will automatically change your new payment plan to match the frequency of the maximum instalments. For example, if you pay Southern Water by 12 instalments and South East Water by eight, your new payment plan will have 12 instalments.
What happens if I owe money on my account with Southern Water?
In most cases, any amount owed on your Southern Water account will transfer to your new One Bill, and will show on your first bill from South East Water.
If it isn’t possible for the balance to be moved to your One Bill, for example when customer details haven’t been matched or there is outstanding court action, then Southern Water will contact you to let you know and will ask you pay the closing balance directly to them.
You should continue to make payments as normal to both us and Southern Water until you receive your first One Bill from South East Water.
Can I manage my account online?
Yes. You can switch to an online account by signing up for our My Account service. You can use your online account to view your One Bill, make quick and easy payments, and tell us if you're on the move.
What happens if my account is in credit with Southern Water?
In most cases, any credit balance on your Southern Water account will transfer to your new One Bill, and will show on your first bill from South East Water.
If it isn’t possible for the credit balance to be moved to your One Bill, for example when customer details haven’t been matched, then Southern Water will contact you to let you know and you’ll need to arrange a refund directly with them.
What’s going to happen to my payment plan?
Once you receive your first One Bill, payments will be joined to form a single payment plan that you will pay to South East Water. If you pay us monthly, depending on how you paid Southern Water, we will either combine your former instalment amounts together, or estimate your wastewater monthly cost based on how much you pay for your water, to make the move onto One Bill as simple as possible.
Once you have your One Bill, all future payments should be made to South East Water, but please continue to make your payments to Southern Water until we have sent you your first One Bill.
If you pay South East Water by Direct Debit, we’ll take care of everything. We’ll confirm your new payment amounts and dates, in accordance with the Direct Debit guarantee, and Southern Water will automatically cancel their Direct Debit arrangement with your bank - you won’t need to do anything.
If you wish to make any changes to your payment plan, we’re here to help so just get in touch by calling us on 0333 000 1122 .
Are there any changes to the way I’m billed?
Yes, there’s one change for customers that have a water meter.
Both South East Water and Southern Water have standing charges but the companies bill these charges slightly differently. South East Water add the metered standing charge to bills in advance, but Southern Water add their metered standing charge in arrears, along with any wastewater usage charges. In future, we’ll be applying South East Water’s approach and will raise both standing charges in advance.
What if I receive a surface water drainage rebate?
Any rebates in relation to Southern Water’s wastewater charges will automatically transfer to your One Bill, and will be indicated on your bills.
Surface water is rainwater which runs off roofs and paved areas and also includes water that drains to the public sewer from activities such as car washing. If the surface water from your property goes to a soakaway and none of it enters the public sewers, then you can claim a rebate.
If you think you qualify for a surface water drainage rebate, you should apply to Southern Water, using their helpful online rebate form: https://www.southernwater.co.uk/surface-water-rebate-form
If your rebate application is accepted, Southern Water will automatically notify South East Water, and we’ll make the adjustment to the charges on your One Bill.
What if I pay by Standing Order?
If you pay by Standing Order, you will need to contact your bank to notify them of the new combined payment amount and dates to reflect your One Bill changes that you pay to South East Water, as well as cancel any Standing Orders to Southern Water.
Can I get help paying my bill?
If you’re having difficulty paying your bill or would like us to change your payment plan, please get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can help.
Our dedicated Customer Services Team can talk you through the many payment options available, as well as the special tariffs and support that we can offer. Give them a call on 0333 000 2468, Monday to Friday (8am – 7pm) and Saturday (8am – 1pm).
Does this affect how many Direct Debits I have with my bank account?
Yes. Your One Bill will mean you only have one company to pay, instead of two, and so you’ll have one less active Direct Debit going through your bank account. If you have an incentive that’s dependent on the number or value of active Direct Debits, this may affect your eligibility.
What if I have a blocked drain or flooding sewer?
Southern Water will continue to be the provider of your wastewater services and any emergencies, blocked drains, or possible pollution queries should continue to be reported by calling Southern Water on 0330 303 0368.
My neighbour hasn’t had a welcome letter from you, but I have?
Don’t worry, that’s quite normal as not all customers are billed at the same time, and we’ll be in touch with them soon.
Will my charges for water and wastewater increase as a result of having One Bill?
No. Your One Bill simply means your South East Water and Southern Water charges will appear alongside each other on a single bill, sent by South East Water.
South East Water and Southern Water will remain separate regulated companies, with any price changes occurring with effect from 1 April each year.
What consultation did you do before implementing One Bill?
The south east of England is unique as we are the only area in England and Wales where customers receive separate bills for their water and wastewater services, so customers moving into the area, as well as many long term customers, have found this confusing.
Within the water industry, we review plans every five years. Research on our last review identified that about 75% of customers either agreed or strongly agreed that having a single bill with combined water and wastewater charges would be preferred – and we agreed to seriously consider this as an option. We’ve also found this to be in line with the anecdotal evidence from our front line teams who say that this has been one of the top issues for our customers.
We’ve therefore worked with Southern Water to make One Bill possible in order to deliver on what customers want. We’re confident that this change will be helpful to all customers who currently have needed to transact with both companies, mainly on issues when they move house, have a query on their consumption or want to make a payment.
How is One Bill accomplished within the Data Protection Act?
Southern Water has appointed South East Water to bill and collect their sewerage charges on their behalf as we already bill and collect the same customers for water. We have a data processing contract in place with Southern to allow customer data to be transferred.
Both companies bill and collect charges based on the fact that there is a legal obligation requiring water companies to supply water to household customers and a corresponding duty allowing them to bill and collect the charges for such services.
This therefore means that both parties process this data in accordance with condition 3 of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act, which means there must be a legal obligation to do so. Southern has outsourced their legal obligation to us to act on their behalf. Because of this legal obligation, there is no need to have the consent of a customer to do so as both parties are exercising their statutory obligations.