Water under the bridge, but still more to do to make bills affordable

Posted on: 20th February 2012

A group of the Region’s MPs will meet Environment Minister, Richard Benyon MP, tomorrow (21st February 2012) to call for more support to bring South West Water bills down to something closer to the levels charged in the rest of the country.

Although they will welcome the Government’s agreed £50 per household cut from April next year, the Cross Party group of MPs will, however, ask the Government to think again about other measures which would help to put right the impact of more than 20 years of South West Waters customers having to endure significantly higher water bills than the rest of the country.

St Ives MP, Andrew George, commented:

“It is great news that, after years of campaigning, the Coalition Government has agreed to provide assistance to hard pressed South West Water customers. Since the privatisation of water over 20 years ago, South West Water customers have had to endure significantly higher water bills than the rest of the country. The £50 per household reduction will be a great relief for many. However, there is still a significant unfairness.

“We will be pressing the Government to think again about other initiatives, such as the use of WaterSure which would require the stimulus of public expenditure in order for it to be deliverable in the South West. Under the Government’s arrangements, South West Water customers would be paying a cross-subsidy of approximately £3.40 for WaterSure reflecting the level of uptake of the tariff in the region. A national scheme would involve a cross-subsidy by ineligible customers of far less; less than £1 per annum.

“Of course, we will do what we can to encourage customer willingness to support a further Company-based cross-subsidy which will be a key factor in the ability to introduce a social tariff within the region. However, if a decent threshold of support isn’t achieved within the South West company area the scheme will be dead in the water.”

The cross Party group of MPs will be meeting the Minister in the House of Commons. The Government’s Water Industry (Financial Assistance) Bill will give the Government the powers to allow financial assistance to be given to South West Water customers. The Bill will receive its Second Reading on 29th February and, if all goes to plan, Royal Assent will be achieved before the end of the current Parliamentary year in May.


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