UK Services Information

When moving into a new home in the UK, you should be aware of all the essential services available and how you will be billed for using them. Additionally, you should be aware of the taxation and insurance requirements that apply.

Local Authority Services and Taxation

Refuse Collection

Refuse and waste is collected regularly, generally on the same day of each week (although this can be more / less frequent, depending on your location).  Waste must be placed in the same place on the night before the day of collection, either in a refuse bag made of sturdy plastic or in a bin with wheels (again, depending on your location).  To dispose of larger objects, such as beds, fridges, washing machines or other cumbersome furnishings, you must arrange with the local council for that to be done.

  • Further Information:  Waste Online (http://www.wasteonline.org.uk/) are an organisation dedicated to providing information on refuse for home and business owners.

Recycling

Recycling is not mandatory across the UK, but is required in some locations and encouraged in all.  To do so, be sure to separate the recyclable materials (i.e. paper, glass, metal, plastic) from the other refuse and leave it in a separate bag / container (which will be provided / indicated to you by the local council).

  • Further Information:  To better understand the importance of recycling, Recycle Now (http://www.recyclenow.com/) give an easy guide to the benefits of recycling and how to start.

Council Tax

Council Tax pay depends on the size and value of the property in which you dwell.  It's vital that you register to pay Council Tax when you move into a new property. Additionally, you have the option of paying the tax in one, two or ten instalments (from April to January).  Additionally, should you be the sole resident of the property, you receive a 25% reduction on your Council Tax (although this rule does not apply to Northern Ireland).

  • Further Information:  The various Council Tax 'bands' that determine how much you are required to pay is controlled by the VOA (Valuation Office Agency).

Utilities

Water

Upon moving into your new home, be it bought or rented, you should receive a letter informing you of the company responsible for supplying your water.  The charge for having water supplied to your home is called the water rates, and you have two options when paying these: in one lump sum payment, or in installments (which would usually be monthly).

The water rates are usually dependent upon the size of your property, although some homes will have a water meter to calculate exactly how much water you use. Should you be receiving Housing Benefit, then it is important you check to see if it will cover your water rates. 

Note: In Northern Ireland, water rates are currently included in the domestic rates (i.e. Council Tax).

Electricity and Gas

Electricity is supplied to all British homes at a level of 240 volts. Most will also have access to gas too.  However, whenever moving into a new home or leaving an old home, it is important you make a note of the electricity and gas meter readings. 

  • Further Information:  Energy Watch (http://www.energywatch.org.uk/) are responsible for monitoring electricity and gas suppliers in the UK, and their website contains a full list of the gas and electricity suppliers currently operating in the UK.

Telephone

While the majority of homes will already have a telephone line installed, new residents can order a new line to be installed by contacting BT (British Telecom) or a cable company.  Many companies now offer telephone land line, mobile and Internet services.  However, public payphones are also an option and can be used with cash, pre-paid phonecards or credit / debit cards.

  • Further Information:  BT (http://www.bt.com/) should be the first port of call for most phones in need of a new line, but there are many other telecommunications companies now in operation.  Should you encounter any difficulties with any telecoms provider, then you should contact Ofcom (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/), who are the body dedicated to monitoring the industry.

Receiving Bills

Once you have started using the utilities, you will start receiving bills invoicing you for payment.  These will also detail the various methods of which you can complete payment, usually including:

  • a standing order or direct debit (if you have a bank account); and
  • a budget scheme, which allow you to pay a fixed amount every month.

Failure to pay bills on a regular basis means the service will be cut off.  To have it reconnected, you will be asked to pay another charge.

Please note: any urgent problems with disconnection from any of these utilities can be reported on a 24 hour help-line that will be printed on your bill.