Occassionally I get approached by members of the public who ask me what to do when they encounter a particularly difficult problem. Water bills counts as one of those difficulties for benefit recipients that is.
the current going rate for Income Support is £64.30 per week whereby rent and rates are free, as well as school meals.
It must be said at this point that this amount of benefits £64.30 is paid to all that fulfil the entitlement criteria regardless of whether they reside with or without water meter.
When I rang Thames Water the operator asked me how many people live in a household. She concluded that where 2 people live in one household they can each have 6 showers per week, use the washing machine and dishwasher 3 times per week each and be considered to be low volume users and be invoiced with a standard £180 per year for water use, that could be paid in monthly direct debit instalments of £15.
The person asking me for assistance got a waterbill of £195 (rounded) for a period of 6 weeks that computes to a weekly water bill of £20 out of £64.30 benefits.
The water consumption of the person asking me for assistance is particularly low, the person noticed that a neighbour’s water meter who resides in his flat longer than he has accumulated only 25 on their meter whilst his is already at 212 with only half the occupants. The flat has 2 previous occupiers and stood empty for a while and was also invoiced to Telford Homes PLC previously.
There are now 3 questions,
1. is it fair that benefit recipients get the same amount of benefit but not all have to pay for water?
2. Are all water meters reliable?
3. How much percentage of the benefit is a benefit recipient expected to pay?
I have read somewhere that benefit recipients generally refuse to pay the water bill and that water companies cannot turn off the water for non payment of the bill as it is against the law to stop the supply of water for more than 12 hours without the supply of a public standing pipe.
I don’t think anyone has paid this matter sufficient attention and the idea to stop water wasting by installing water meters is completely misconceived as people cannot be disconnected from their water supply in any case.
the person complaining to me does not only get charged for water in per tap but also for waste water out at 30%, which means there is a double charge for water used.
There should be an acceptable water usage standard in place and benefits allocated according to this standard whereby the amount of benefit has to be adjusted for the extra expense of the water because previously benefits were calculated on costs of living when no water had to be paid and non metered and metered recipients all get the same amount of money.