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Bill Cash MP
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Bill Cash calls for protection for voluntary groups from the “rain tax”

Press release 11/08/09       

Today, Bill Cash MP, called for immediate action to be taken to protect voluntary groups – across Stone, Trentham, Cheadle, Hixon, Eccleshall, Madeley, Ashley, Gnosall, and the surrounding villages – from soaring water charges.
 
Charges for surface water drainage are being introduced by some water companies, dubbed the ‘rain tax’. Many churches, scout groups and amateur sports clubs will pay hundreds of pounds more in higher bills, in some cases amounting to a third of their yearly revenue.
 
Bill Cash said, "I am told the new charges could cost the Church of England £15 million a year, and the Scout Association estimate that the changes could cost scout huts £500 a year – an equivalent of 25 to 30 per cent of their yearly income. Such voluntary groups currently have exemptions or discounts for business rates, but this will not extend to water rates."
 
Notes:
 
NEW ‘RAIN TAX’ ON VOLUNTARY GROUPS
 
Surface water charging: Surface water drainage is the charge from water companies for water draining into their sewers from roofs, paths, car parks etc.  It is often billed in conjunction with highways drainage, but if taken separately accounts for around 9 per cent of the average bill (16 per cent if combined with highways drainage).
 
Water quango guidance: In 2003, Ofwat’s head of tariffs wrote to all water companies recommending a move to site-area charging, with specific reference to condition E of their license.  Condition E is the duty that “no undue preference is shown, and that there is no undue discrimination in the fixing…of water and drainage charges”.  Ofwat have contacted all water companies and asked them to review their charging schemes by 2010. 
 
According to Ofwat: “There is no reason why a church or charity should not pay for surface water drainage in the same way as a business as both the church, charity and the business would be making a similar demand on the service.  We believe that charging all non-household premises by site area complies with the Secretary of State's guidance.”
 
 
Impact on churches, Scout and Guide groups and community amateur sports clubs: The Scout Association has launched a campaign to ‘Stop the Rain Tax’ (http://scouts.org.uk/water).  They estimate that the changes could cost scout huts £500 a year, and that the cost for some groups could represent 25-30 per cent of their income.
 
The Don’t Drain Us campaign (www.dontdrainus.org) have estimated that the annual cost to the Church of England of moving to site area charging throughout England  would be £15 million.  This is made up of approximately £10 million for highway drainage and £5 million for surface water. 





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