North Devon MP's Bill for fairer water charges
NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey is presenting a Bill to parliament today (Wednesday) that would make water bills across the entire country fairer. The Bill calls on the Government to recognise the serious problem of water poverty, particularly in the South We
NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey is presenting a Bill to parliament today (Wednesday) that would make water bills across the entire country fairer.
The Bill calls on the Government to recognise the serious problem of water poverty, particularly in the South West, where water bills are 43% higher than the national average.
It requires the Office of Water Services (OFWAT) to set an equal water tariff across all of the country.
Mr Harvey said: "It is scandalous that water charges in the South West are continually higher than anywhere else in the country. Despite being in power for 13 years, the government still has not fixed this problem and the government can no longer ignore the South West's need for real change.
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"My Bill will lower water charges across the South West by introducing an equal water charge across the country and also by requiring companies to offer more support to all their customers who struggle to pay their bills."
The Bill would make water and sewerage companies offer "social tariffs" to a wider range of their customers. South West Water, for example, offers a reduced tariff through its WaterSure programme. But in order to qualify for the discount, customers have to meet a stringent set of criteria, including already having a water meter installed. Under Mr Harvey's Bill companies would have to offer a discount to any customer within the water poverty threshold, defined as when more than three per cent of a household's income after tax is spent on water bills.
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The Bill also addresses water and sewerage companies' need for investment to bring their infrastructure up to standard. It establishes an investment fund that all companies would pay into fairly. That money would then be allocated out for specific companies' needs.