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Consumer water campaign helps two local supermarkets claw back over £5,000

Two supermarkets in Portadown and Coalisland have clawed back more than £5000 on their water bills – with a little help from a consumer watchdog.

The Consumer Council is continuing a campaign to help businesses make sure they aren’t paying more for their water than necessary.

And there has been victory on that front after Springisland supermarket in Coalisland and AJ Maginn Spar Stores in Portadown contacted the Consumer Council to have their water bills checked.

Mark Crawford, Head of Consumer Support at the Consumer Council, explains what happened next.

“The Consumer Council reviewed the bills and identified that not all the rateable allowances were being applied,” he said.

“We therefore contacted NI Water on behalf of the supermarkets. As a result of our investigations, the businesses had their bills assessed and backdated adjustments were made. This put each supermarket over £2,500 in credit.”

Mr Crawford advised others that they too may be paying too much and needlessly out of pocket.

He added: “Anyone with a water meter who pays business rates can claim the rateable allowance. This is a free allowance of water worth over £500 each year. You need to apply for this from NI Water.

“It’s free to apply and claims can be backdated up to six years. NI Water promotes the availability of allowances, but the Consumer Council has found that business awareness levels are low and some could therefore be paying too much for their water.

“We would encourage any business, large or small, to contact us for free independent advice and we can check they are getting what they are entitled to.”

Speaking about the assistance the Consumer Council offers to businesses, Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said: “NIIRTA worked with the Consumer Council earlier this year to highlight the assistance the Consumer Council can offer businesses. It’s great to see our members benefit from help with their water bills.

“I would encourage our members to check their bills for both accuracy and any allowances due. The Consumer Council can help with this and can offer free, independent advice on any water or energy issues.”

The Consumer Council has resources available for businesses including an online water usage calculator and guides such as, ‘Every Drop Counts’, which are available to download free at www.consumercouncil.org.uk  or by calling 0800 121 6022. Users can also work out Average Daily Consumption (ADC), assessed charges and possible unmeasured charges.

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