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MP tackles Gordon Brown about high water bills in south west England

August 2, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton, Linda Gilroy, has written to the new Prime Minister to press him on the issue of high water bills in the South West. A Commons motion was submitted back in February in response to South West Water increasing charges for customers who already have the highest bills in the country. The latest price hikes see bills for unmetred homes in Plymouth go up by 16.1% to £680. The average bill in London is £275.

User comments on The Water Guide reflect continued frustration amongst householders in the South West. Water and sewerage bills are described as ‘ridiculous’, ‘exorbitant’, ‘unfair’ and ‘unjustified.’

Announcing their charges for 2007/2008, South West Water said they were acutely aware that price increases may ’cause difficulty for some customers’. They say that higher than average bills are the result of essential infrastructure investments made in the last 15 years to improve service and meet stringent industry standards.

South West Water argues that there are a range of measures to help people struggling to cope with price increases. These include the installation of water meters and WaterCare, a scheme designed to help those in need to pay their bills and save water.

On the 7th June 2007, Linda Gilroy MP asked Ian Pearson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he expected to publish the Water Strategy and what account it would take of affordability. Ian Pearson replied that the strategy would be published later this summer and that it would take account of affordability concerns, particularly for those on low incomes and vulnerable groups. The new Water Strategy will outline Government commitments to water availability and quality, aiming to improve standards of service while balancing environmental impacts and social and economic factors.

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