Martin Ford 06 May 2021

Lambeth to reimburse £27m of water bills

Lambeth to reimburse £27m of water bills image

Lambeth LBC faces a bill of up to £26.5m to reimburse residents overcharged for water bills.

The council’s decision to pay out the money follows years of legal wrangling over agreements under which local authorities collected charges on behalf of Thames Water.

Lambeth retained a proportion of the charges, which were agreed by the water company, and, in return, was responsible for pursuing tenants for non-payment.

Officers believe Thames Water has 70 ‘broadly similar’ contracts with other London boroughs, district councils and housing associations.

However, the High Court has ruled that, under such arrangements, councils should be classed as a ‘reseller’ and not an agent, and therefore households legally should have received discounts on their bills.

A court of appeal test case was dismissed in October 2020 and Lambeth’s legal experts have concluded ‘further pursuing the test case at the Supreme Court would not result in success’.

The council is facing costs of almost £18m to reimburse current tenants and up to £8.6m for former tenants, although it expects actual costs to be less in the latter case.

It has £22m of reserves put aside to cover the reimbursement.

The agreement between Lambeth and Thames Water was terminated in March 2020.

In a report, officers concluded: ‘With hindsight, this means that the council’s arrangements with Thames Water were poor from a commercial perspective because it has taken on the debt collection administration and bad debt risk associated with the water charges without any consideration in return.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Travel Information Data Technician

Essex County Council
Up to £25581 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity to work across all aspects of the Integrated Passenger Transport Unit (IPTU). Working with a passionate and dedicated England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager

Essex County Council
£57621 - £61410 per annum
Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager Permanent, Full Time £57,621 to £61,410 per annum Location
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Accountant

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,571 - £42,614
Are you a qualified Accountant looking to take the next step in your career? Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Family Assessment Worker

Telford & Wrekin Council
£25,419 to £27,514
We have a great opportunity for a full time Family Assessment Worker in the Parenting Assessment Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£23,023 - £24,920
The post holder will tackle environmental crimes and unlawful parking. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.