Help to pay water bills available

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Horsham District Council is urging residents to look at the full range of support offered by Southern Water to help ensure that domestic water bills remain affordable for all residents.

To secure water resources for the future, Southern Water is installing 500,000 water meters across the south east by 2015, as the region is ‘water stressed’ and people on a meter use around 10 per cent less. Installation work in the Horsham District is almost complete.

Councillors on Horsham District Council’s Social Inclusion Working Group conducted a review of Southern Water’s Metering Programme earlier this year.

The review was set up to examine the rationale used by Southern Water to identify which residents will need assistance and support, the criteria which is used to identify the residents and the level and range of support that will be offered.

It also considered the impact of the Metering Programme on the residents of the Horsham District and the review aimed to identify how Southern Water will maintain regular checks while the meters are being installed to ensure they are being used correctly and support is provided.

Around half of customers see their water bills go down by being on a meter.

Working with customers, Southern Water has developed a range of tariffs to give people time to adapt to having a meter and metered charges, as well as ensure that all customers can afford their bills.

It is also providing customers with advice and support on how they can save water, energy and money.

The working group focused on those households which may be affected most by moving to a water meter.

It encouraged anyone with genuine concerns about being able to pay their water bill to get in touch with Southern Water to discuss which tariff may be suitable for them.

Those with concerns can also discuss a range of other support options which are available, such as home water audits and expert financial advice from independent bodies.

Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), chairman of the Social Inclusion Working Group, said: “I am very pleased to hear from Southern Water about the tariffs they have put in place to help those people who are having difficulty paying larger bills.”

Anyone who wants to find out more about water meters, metered bills, the range of tariffs available, or how they can save water, energy and money, should visit www.southernwater.co.uk/metering or call Southern Water’s Metering Contact Centre on 0333 2003 013.

The Social Inclusion Working Group at Horsham District Council considers and makes recommendations to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee on a number of different matters, including access to services and supporting vulnerable people.