Sign the petition

First action must be to log on to what proudly calls itself ‘The official site of the Prime Ministers Office’ and sign the relevant government e-Petition, at

The text is ‘We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to instruct water companies to return to charging churches as charities rather than as business premises’. The deadline is 6 April 2009, so do it now, and then get someone else to sign it.

It was Mr David Boddy, churchwarden of North Thornaby in Teesside, who set up the petition after his parish’s bill from Northumbrian Water increased from £70 to £800. ‘Most of the proceeds from our summer fair will now be paying water bills,’ he said.

Co-ordinating group

The co-ordinating website is . As they put it:

What the campaign is working towards

A review by the Government of the charging mechanism with serious consideration given to regulations that would introduce a charity band or the return to rateable value charging for churches, clubs and charities.
An investigation into why Ofwat ignored government guidelines and encouraged water companies to charge churches, clubs and charities as commercial enterprises. We need your help to win this campaign.
Manchester church people have taken the lead, and report among other things: ‘Using the latest images from space, we reveal that Knutsford Parish Church would be billed more than the town’s Rolls Royce showroom; community halls holding regular jumble sales would be billed more than a Vivienne Westwood boutique; and Manchester Cathedral would be billed more than local department stores.’

What it will cost?

The rain tax is expected to cost the Church of England over £15,000,000 a year, plus a further £10 million as churches employ professional services to appeal the initial bills. This is equivalent to the Church of England being permanently drained of the resources to employ 375 clergy (a loss often clergy in every diocese), or being unable to support 3,000 community groups. Larger churches will see their bills rise from £140 to £8,000 and cathedrals will pay between £5,000 and £71,000 a year.

The Scouts Association estimates the total drain from the pockets of their children into the pockets of water companies to be around £1.5 million.

Many small voluntary sports clubs are reporting similar increases, ranging from 100 to 1,400%. The total annual cost to the not-for-profit sector of churches, charities and clubs is believed by many to be over £100 million a year.