Many village halls, community buildings and sports clubs have been exempt from water charges. This is about to change. From 1 April 2016 the new Water Charges and Sewerage Exemption scheme will require charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) in Scotland to apply for an exemption every year. If your organisation was previously exempt from water and sewerage charges you should have received a letter from your licensed provider to explain the changes.
Is my organisation liable?
The scheme either exempts or gives partial exemption, subject to certain conditions, to charities and CASCs with an annual income of less than £200,000. Those with an income between £200,000 and £300,000 pay a reduced rate. Detailed information is available from the Scottish Government.
To be exempt in 2016/17 you need to have applied to your water provider by 31 March 2016. If you did not, your organisation is liable to pay charges from 1 April 2016. Organisations obtaining charitable or CASC status during the year will be eligible for exemption from the date upon which that status is granted.
To apply, contact the relevant Licensed Provider and ask for an application form.
I am still not sure if my organisation is liable
Our FAQs might help:
Q: We’ve never had to apply for a water exemption before, so why do we now?
A: You may have been exempt from charges under a historic scheme that ended in 2015. All exempt organisations under that scheme were automatically free of paying charges from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. However, the new scheme now requires that organisations apply each year for an exemption.
Q: Why do we need to apply every year?
A: The level of support depends on the level of an organisation’s income. In order to determine this, your provider will check accounts submitted to OSCR. Applying each year means that records kept by the water industry are up-to-date and that only eligible organisations receive the exemption.
Q: We missed the 31 March 2016 deadline to apply. What can we do?
A: You will be billed from 1 April 2016. However, you can still apply up until 31 March 2017. If your application is accepted, you can still receive a full or partial exemption. Any payments made for services used from 1 April 2016 will be refunded.
Q: Our organisation is not a charity or CASC. Does that mean we won’t get an exemption even though we did in the past?
A: Yes. Only charities and CASCs can apply to the new scheme. You will automatically receive a 50% discount on the wholesale charges in 2016-17 as part of the transition arrangements. Full charges will apply from 2017-18.
Q: We’re not a charity or CASC and can’t afford the water charges. What can we do?
A: You could consider increasing your charges to cover the costs or, if you feel it appropriate, apply for charity or CASC status. You will be eligible for exemption from the date you become a charity or CASC.
Q: Where can I find out more about becoming a charity?
A: You can find out more about how to become a charity and some of the pros and cons at the SCVO website. Your local third sector interface can also get advice and support. Further information about becoming a charity is also available from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
Q: Where can I find out more about becoming a CASC?
Q: What happens if our organisation becomes a charity or a CASC during 2016-17 – can we apply for exemption?
A: Yes. As soon as charity or CASC status is awarded you can apply for exemption subject to meeting the other eligibility criteria. The exemption will be backdated to the date upon which charitable/CASC status is awarded.