The plea from the Ofwat National Customer Council (ONCC) – an independent body which represents the interests of water customers in England and Wales – came in response to the publication of the UK Government’s consultation paper on protection for customers who could suffer hardship as a result of paying for water and sewerage services on a measured basis.

ONCC Chairman, Sheila Reiter, warned that the lateness in the publication of the consultation paper could lead to rushed decisions. Ritter said it would be better to postpone full implementation and to focus on introducing a pilot scheme in April next year.

ONCC believes the UK Government’s proposals to use the water charging system to provide protection for vulnerable customers will lead to customers paying higher bills to subsidise those on low incomes or with special needs. Water companies who will have to administer the special protection arrangements will incur additional costs, which will have to be paid for by customers.

Sheila Reiter continued: “We remain of the view that the best way for the Government to provide financial support for people on low incomes is through taxation and the social security system; not by the legal imposition of social policy obligations on the water companies.”

ONCC and the ten regional customer service committees will be submitting a full response to the Government next month.

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