Water: Prices

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 23 April 2019.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that water services are affordable for older people.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Government’s November 2017 ‘Strategic policy statement to Ofwat’, the economic regulator for the water industry, challenged the water industry to do more for vulnerable customers in England, including older people. In Ofwat’s Price Review 2019 process in which water companies set out their business plans for 2020-25, Ofwat required companies to set out in their business plans how they would better identify and support those customers who need financial help. Work on the plans is ongoing.

Current support includes the Government mandated WaterSure scheme which enables water companies to cap bills for eligible low income customers using a lot of water for essential family or health reasons. All water companies also offer schemes, known as social tariffs, for eligible customers on low incomes or receiving specific benefits. Approximately 400,000 household customers currently benefit from such water bill support schemes.

Legislative powers recently put in place in the Digital Economy Act 2017 allow data sharing between water companies and other organisations, including Government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions. This will help companies identify and consequently provide support to more customers who may need help with their bills.

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