Minister praises South West Water's pioneering package to help customers
Water minister Phil Woolas has today (Thursday December 20) highlighted South West Water's WaterCare scheme as a positive response to the issue of affordability.
For two years, SWW has been closely involved in a regional pilot study commissioned by Defra on how to practically help low income households across Britain pay their bills with a combination of metering, water efficiency measures and benefit entitlement checks.
Taking early findings from the study, SWW started its own fully-funded WaterCare scheme last April to assist qualifying customers.
Speaking after the publication of research into the pilot study, Mr Woolas said: "South West Water has responded very positively, and on its own initiative is now rolling out the measures more widely. A further 7,500 homes in the region may benefit over three years."
Monica Read, South West Water's Director of Customer Service, said: "We decided to take the elements which seemed to be working best in the pilot study and put them into a programme to help people in the most need now.
"WaterCare is the first scheme of its kind to be introduced by a water company and uniquely helps customers save both water and money at the same time.
"We welcome the Minister's comments and like him hope the study will help bring a workable, national solution to the problem of water affordability ever closer."
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Notes to editors
1) Under WaterCare, trained advisors from the Eaga Partnership will meet with 7,500 qualifying customers in their homes over three years and offer them a range of free measures including:
· Installing simple water saving devices such as trigger nozzles on hosepipes, tap flow restrictors and 'Hippos' in toilet
· Carrying out simple repairs including fixing dripping taps and stopping cistern overflows
· Assessing whether a water meter would help reduce their bills if they are not already metered
· Ensuring customers are receiving all possible existing financial support and benefits
· Moving on to more affordable payment plans tailored to their circumstances
2) South West Water worked with the Eaga Partnership to carry out the fieldwork for the pilot study in 520 low income households around Plymouth and Penwith in Cornwall.
Overall the pilot programme was beneficial with the largest savings coming from benefit entitlement checks and households switching to a metered tariff.