WATER RATES - New Rules
WATER TRUST FUNDS
YOU CANNOT BE
WATER RATES DEBTS
Water companies can no longer disconnect your water supply if you are in arrears. The rules changed on 30 June 1999. They also cannot install anything in your home that restricts the flow of water from the taps. If the water company threatens to disconnect you for being in arrears, complain to Ofwat, the body that regulates the water companies or\ue000phone
You can complain to Ofwat through your local Consumer Council for Water committee.See
Warning: Some water companies are threatening to disconnect a property on the basis that "they think the property is empty".
Make sure you keep in touch with the company as they may attempt to do this if no one has responded to their letters for some time. If you have a threat of disconnection to your supply, ring the water company and make sure they understand that you are still in the property and they cannot disconnect the supply.
You should carry on including your current water rates in the STEP 2 OUTGOINGS section of your personal budget. This is because water is an ongoing bill. If you have water rates arrears then they no longer need to be treated as a priority debt. You can make an offer of repayment that you can afford using your budget sheet along with your other credit debts in STEP 6. If you are on income support/pension credit/job seeker's allowance you can ask the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) to deduct a sum to cover current water rates and a standard amount towards the arrears from your benefit each week.
Our information pack \u201cDealing with your Debts\u201d includes a step by step guide to completing your personal budget and how to negotiate with creditors.
If you do not agree a repayment arrangement then the water company can issue a county court claim against you to ask you to repay the money you owe. You can make an offer of payment by filling in the reply form to the claim(N9a) and sending this back to your water company within the time limit. If the court agrees with your offer then you will be told to pay the debt off in instalments. For more information ask for our factsheet "Replying to a county court claim".\ue000Phone us for
From April 2000 you have the right to have a water meter put in so that you are charged on the basis of the water you actually use. You can swap back to the usual non-metered system within 12 months if you don't like the water meter; e.g. your bills are higher than before It may be cheaper to have a water meter put in if you don't use much water e.g. you are single or out all day.
Contact your water company, as some suppliers will advise you if your bills are likely to be cheaper if you move to a water meter.
There are new rights to get some help with water bills if you are on a low incomeand on a water meter. You will only pay the average bill that the water company charges overall so if you use a lot of water then your bill will go down.
\u2022income based job seeker's allowance
\u2022working tax credit
\u2022child tax credit (except families who receive the
You can get an application form from your water company. You need to give proof of the benefit you are receiving and you will need to explain your medical condition in detail. If you have a medical condition that is not listed you can still quality if you use large amounts of water. You need a doctor\u2019s certificate as proof. You can stay on the scheme for a year and then have to re-apply.
If you have a complaint about your water company you should speak or write to your water company first. Each water company should have a complaints procedure they can send you. Your water company should reply to your complaint within 10 working days.
If you are not happy with the outcome then you can complain to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater). This is independent from the water company and will investigate your complaint. You need to send your complaint to the local CCWater committee that covers your area. Check the contact details on their website or ring the head office. If the water company does not comply with their decision then CCWater will refer your complaint to Ofwat. Ofwat is the independent regulator for water services.
Centre City Tower
7 Hill Street
Tel: 0121 625 1300. Email:www.ofwat.gov.uk
A number of water companies operate charitable trust funds. Some offer help only with water and sewerage debt; others are prepared to help with other priority debts and even bankruptcy fees in certain situations. Others offer 'restart schemes'. These operate on the basis of you entering into a regular payment scheme, and payments made are then matched by the trust fund. If you maintain the arrangement, the remaining debt may be written off. You will need to contact the trust fund to find out how to apply. You will usually have to fill in a form. You may need an advice agency to help you.\ue000Phone us for advice.
Only pay for water debts. You must show some commitment to pay \u00a31.00 or more a week for 2 months. To apply you need a personal budget sheet completed by an adviser and a covering letter.
PO Box 42, Peterborough PE3 8XH
Telephone: 01733 421 021
Will help with water debts and other essential bills. You will need to fill in an application form with proof of income. You must be a customer of Portsmouth Water, Tendring Hundred Water, Folkestone and Dover Water, Mid Kent Water, Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water, South East Water.
Only assist with water or sewerage arrears that are no more than two
years old and less than \u00a31000. You must have at least one priority debt
as well as water arrears.
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