London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — September 19, 2007 – More water customers in England and Wales are receiving help with their bills and services, according to new figures published today by Ofwat, the Water Services Regulation Authority. The number of low-income metered households successfully applying to have their bill capped under the WaterSure scheme rose by 23% in the past year, from nearly 13,200 to more than 16,200, while the number of elderly and disabled customers registered to receive special assistance increased by 8% from around 82,800 to nearly 90,000.
Under the WaterSure scheme, formerly known as the Vulnerable Groups Scheme and introduced by the government in 2000, metered customers who receive certain benefits or tax credits, and are either responsible for three or more children under the age of 19, or have a medical condition which requires significant additional use of water, can apply to pay no more than the average household bill for their region.
Andrew Dunn, Ofwat’s Director of Consumer Protection, welcomed the increased support for customers, but urged those who think they may qualify for either scheme to get in touch with their water company.
Dunn said: "I am pleased to see that more vulnerable customers and those requiring special assistance are taking advantage of the help that is available from water companies. But, despite the increases, take-up still remains low. I would encourage any customer who thinks that they may qualify for a reduced bill under the WaterSure scheme or who needs a specialized service to contact their water company. These schemes are there to help customers.
"WaterSure can take the worry out of turning on a tap, particularly for a customer with a medical condition who needs to use plenty of water. And elderly and disabled customers gain peace of mind through specialist services such as password schemes to prevent bogus callers tricking their way into homes.
"Ofwat will continue to work with the Consumer Council for Water to ensure companies continue to promote these important services to those who may benefit."