Major Whitehall report highlights SWW's scheme
WaterCare - South West Water's programme to assist customers in the most need - has been praised in the government's Water Strategy published today (Thursday).
The report into the future of the UK's water and sewerage services highlights how South West Water adapted successful elements from a Defra-commissioned pilot study in Plymouth and Penwith into its own WaterCare scheme.
It states: "The measures used in the pilot have already been followed up by South West Water under the name WaterCare. We encourage other water companies to consider providing a similar service to their customers."
Under WaterCare, qualifying customers struggling to pay their bills are offered free home water audits, free water-saving devices, benefit entitlement checks and the option of installing a meter or moving onto more affordable payment plans.
Started in April 2007, the scheme will help 7,500 customers over three years and is the first of its type in the water industry.
South West Water's Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: "We are obviously pleased to see WaterCare highlighted as an innovative approach to tackling affordability. The customers involved so far have been very pleased with the help they received and are saving both water and money.
"There are plenty of other things in the report which chime in well with our long term Pure Water, Pure Service, Pure Environment vision of improving our services and protecting the environment at a price people can afford.
"Already, thousands across the South West are discovering the benefits of switching to meters though it has always been our position that our customers should be free to choose the tariff which suits them."
"We have also improved the information we can offer to customers through our £2 million investment in our new high-tech Service Centre in Exeter, so we can tell them more quickly and accurately about the hundreds of jobs we are doing out in the field every day.
"The importance of working with agriculture and other industries to prevent pollution at source rather than expensively removing pollutants during the water and sewerage treatment processes later is specifically mentioned and we are already developing schemes to do precisely that.
"We note there is talk of new reservoirs in the report but I can confirm our water supply situation is very healthy compared to other regions even after 11 consecutive years without any hosepipe bans or restrictions - and building reservoirs from scratch is not in our future plans."
Published: 7 February 2008
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.
For more information on South West Water's response to the water strategy, please call: