Businesses, who suffer disruption as a result of street works planned by the water authorities across the region, need to be aware that there is a compensation process available to reimburse them for lost profits.
Works are going on throughout the region as old sewer systems, are upgraded and replaced. This can often cause disruption for businesses, who find that they have restricted access to their premises, sometimes over weeks and months.
If customers can’t get to you or there is significant disturbance outside then business profits are likely to suffer. The Water Industry Act 1991 provides for compensation for the disruption caused by new pipelaying or rehabilitation work.
Although we all recognise that these works are vital the associated road closures and lack of access can affect the profits of businesses and there is no reason why they should lose out. In order to substantiate the claim you will be asked to provide financial information. Just showing that takings have dropped will not be enough; the rules only cover loss of profit.
The good news is that many businesses in Gloucestershire and surrounding areas have successfully made claims during major works, although most businesses needed help to calculate their claims.
There may also be a case to be made for some businesses to claim rate relief on their premises. It is worth looking at the issue as soon as you get notification that you will be affected by works in your area. But as claims are based on actual losses if you have suffered as a result of works nearby recently then it is still worth exploring the compensation route.
Businesses should look at the plans for work carefully when they are exhibited as this is a key time to discuss any opportunities with the authority for mitigating the impact of the works on their business. This is also the time to start preparing paperwork for their compensation claims as the onus will be on them to prove how they have been affected by any disruption.
It is often difficult for contractors carrying out the work to know in advance exactly how individual businesses will be affected as the schedule often involves some degree of investigative work before the full extent of what needs to be done can be assessed.
This is often the nature of major projects such as these as complications are discovered as the works are in progress. This means a business that at first thought it would just have to cope with a little disruption suddenly finds it has a lengthy period of roadworks or lack of access to cope with and profits dip as a result.
Bruton Knowles has produced a guide to compensation for business disturbance, which is available to help Gloucestershire businesses seek appropriate compensation.