Review of water and sewerage charging
Anna Walker, the Chair of the independent Government review looking into water and sewerage charges, will visit the South West on 5 December.
Ms Walker has been asked by the Government to examine the effectiveness and fairness of the current, and any alternative, methods of charging. Prior to writing her report she is holding a series of events across the country including one in Plymouth.
The meeting will be chaired by Plymouth MP Linda Gilroy, with support from St Ives MP Andrew George and Gary Streeter, MP for Devon South West, and South West Water.
Pensioners' and consumer groups from across the region have been invited to attend the event to discuss issues such as water metering, sustainable tariffs and what can be done to make water bills more affordable and help customers to pay. The event is open to the wider public (see contact details at the end).
Linda Gilroy said: "The South West is a special case: water bills here are higher than in the rest of the country because a small population has had the task of cleaning up a large coastline. It's particularly unfair because here in the South West we have many people on low or fixed incomes.
"This review is a good opportunity for us in the South West to voice our concerns and I hope it will enable the Government to put in place more help for people in the South West who are struggling to pay their water bill."
Chris Loughlin, Chief Executive of South West Water, will explain at the event how the company set up WaterCare to help people struggling to pay their water bills by putting in water conservation devices and checking whether households were receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled.
Chris Loughlin said: "South West Water is acutely aware that some people struggle to pay their bill and we welcome the Walker Review for that reason. We have already put in place WaterCare, which has helped thousands of people to improve their income and reduce their water bills.
Mr Loughlin said the company was currently in discussions with Ofwat to run a trial of an innovative new tariff in which customers would be incentivised to conserve water by paying a discount charge for an initial block based on essential water use, a standard charge for the next block based on average use and a higher charge for a last block based on above average use.
He added: "We hope to be able to announce details of the trial shortly, because we are keen to explore other avenues to help more people whilst protecting the environment."
Published on: 17 November 2008
Notes to editors
1. Members of the public who would like to attend the event in Plymouth on 5 December should contact the Walker Review Team on 020 7238 2011 or via e-mail to email@example.com. Spaces will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
2. Anna Walker will be available for interviews before and after the event and in the afternoon will be visiting the home of a WaterCare customer which the media are welcome to attend.
Linda Gilroy: 020 7219 4746
Review Team: 020 7238 2011