Charges hit churches
A KIRKLEES MP has attacked plans that will see churches getting astronomical water bill rises.
Mike Wood, MP for Batley and Spen, says new charges from Yorkshire Water will have a crippling effect on churches as they will be forced to pay as much as 10 times more than now.
The new charges, which will come into force in 2010, mean current exemptions for surface water drainage will be removed for organisations with charitable status, including churches.
The Church of England alone expects the new charging will cost it millions of pounds.
Some parishes fear bill rises of almost 600% and one expects to see its bills rise incrementally from £34 a year now to £543 by 2011.
The charges have been approved by water industry regulator Ofwat, which wants to see a level playing field for non-residential customers.
The charges mean churches and other places of worship face the same charges as businesses.
Charges will be based on the total area occupied by the church.
Mr Wood is opposing the plans after being lobbied by local churches.
He said: “These proposals will have serious implications for local churches.
“Their previous status as charities will be removed and – due to land-based charges for surface water drainage – they may well see bills 10 times what they are now.
“Ofwat’s plan was to make the charging system fairer.
“What it will do is put a massive financial burden on those who manage local churches, many of which are important and historic buildings.
“Attempts to create a level playing field between businesses and places of worship makes no sense at all.
“The two things are so very different and charging churches in the same way as businesses is unfair and unreasonable.”
Mr Wood has now pledged to challenge Ofwat and Government ministers on the issue.