Water to be cheaper for poor people
Water. One of life's essentials isn't it? Despite the fact it tastes horrible without Ribena in it. Either way, everyone needs water and no-one more than the poor. They have water for their tea.
In these Tough Economic Times, water companies in England and Wales are being told by the government that, if they want, they can charge lower prices for their poorest customers. MPs aren't making a law on this or anything... merely 'guiding'.
Politicians want to see "social tariffs" based on ability to pay as they try to get utility bills cheaper. It's been estimated that 2.4 million households have trouble paying their water bills, so water companies are being asked to give a discount to a selection of their customers.
However, the water companies are currently bound by Ofwat's licensing conditions which means they can't cut bills without contravening the law.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "If you're struggling to make ends meet, not paying for essential utilities isn't an option but it can mean making tough choices elsewhere; like sacrificing healthy meals for the family or new school books. We've already announced tough new measures to see gas and electric bills fall by up to £100 a year. This will see struggling families save more."
The Consumer Council for Water welcomed the move, saying it was vital that help was made available to customers.
A spokesman said: "We will be working with water companies to identify how, subject to customer support, social tariffs might be used as part of their wider customer affordability strategies and to ensure that customers' views are central to any decisions."