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  • Water Charges and Third Party Deductions from Be

    (Not sure if this is the right forum for this, or even how this all works in Scotland. But have it anyway. )


    Water Charges and Third Party Deductions from Benefits


    It appears that it is the DWP (Dept of Work and
    Pensions) decision maker who decides how much these
    companies can take from those on Tax Credits and
    Benefits, directly from the source of their income,
    without their knowledge or consent.
    Only if the amount exceeds 25% of their income will
    the DWP bother to inform or seek permission to go ahead.

    OFWAT's guidelines suggest a preference for informing
    people, but its only a suggestion. The DWP routinely
    does not inform people who are about to have
    deductions taken from their Tax Credits or Benefits.
    Neither do the companies. In this the DWP seems to be
    on the side of the companies. But even if they did
    inform claimants, the deductions will still go on
    nevertheless. Consent is not required.

    People will also remain shackled to these debts,
    incurred thro exorbitant charges, NOT their own water
    usage - until their deaths.

    Yet no mention, or question, as to how the water
    companies arrive at their 'sewerage' costs. Which are
    the main item on bills that push the balance thro the
    roof. And place people in debt to them in the first
    place.

    Costs which are currently used to rebuild the water
    infrastructure. So they can come back to us all in the
    future - and profit from it.

    Bills are also to increase imminently on the water
    usage side of their algebraic equations. Its said that actual water
    usage charges will go up to match the sewerage
    charges. To improve delivery of water to our homes ...

    And then, because of the current floods, we've all
    been left in no doubt that to better our drainage
    systems our overall bills will go up - yet more.

    The future is not looking good.

    Bow before your gods, people ...



    OFWAT - Review of guidelines for dealing
    with household customers in debt –
    conclusions


    Third Party Deductions for water payments:

    'But a number of companies pointed out that the local
    JobCentre Plus or Pension
    Service office will make the final decision as to
    whether a customer can go on the
    scheme and also notifies the customer when payments
    commence. They
    thought that this would be sufficient notice to the
    customer – requiring the
    companies to notify a customer as well was felt to be
    unnecessary duplication.'

    'In terms of the use of the scheme leaving customers
    with insufficient income, it is
    implicit that the reduced income after deductions must
    still be considered
    sustainable without hardship. Safeguards are in place
    to prevent deductions
    becoming too heavy a burden for people on benefit
    income. A fixed amount for
    each arrears item is supported by an overall cap to
    prevent too many deductions
    being taken at any one time. A further safety net is
    included where deductions
    will exceed 25% of the customers’ benefits and child
    tax credit income, whereby
    customers must give their consent before the
    deductions can be made.'

    'We therefore feel that it would be for the relevant
    office to take this decision
    rather than rely on companies to decide whether
    customers can afford to have
    money taken from their benefits.'

    'However, the ultimate decision on whether the
    customer is accepted onto the scheme will be made by
    the relevant decision-maker at the JobCentre Plus or
    Pension Service office. Those companies that have
    worked to build effective working relationships with
    local offices have found this to be productive.'

    'For some customers, the situation may never improve
    and therefore their debt
    will increase each year. In the meantime, debt
    collection costs continue to be
    incurred. Eventually, typically after a period of time
    or when the customer passes
    away, the debt will be written off.'

    'The level, nature and implications of a customer’s
    commitments to other creditors may affect their
    ability to pay the water company ... To meet this
    principle, companies will generally be expected to ...
    Make reasonable enquiries as to the customer’s ability
    to pay when setting up instalment arrangements and
    take account of the information given. This may
    involve using some kind of ‘income and expenditure’
    form or ’common financial statement’ (as published by
    the Money Advice Trust and the British Bankers’
    Association) completed by the customer or a debt
    advisor to use in assessing realistic payment options.
    Companies and their agents should retain an
    appropriate record of enquiries made.'



    http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/aptrix/ofwat/publish.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/debt_guideline_conclusions270307.pdf/$FILE/debt_guideline_conclusions270307.pdf




    OFWAT on water profits


    Water charges and company profits: Position Paper:

    http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/aptrix/ofwat/publish.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/PosPaper_WaterCharges160606.pdf/$FILE/PosPaper_WaterCharges160606.pdf



    Water Charges and Third Party Deductions from Benefits

    http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/...dev_011822.pdf


    (A copy of this has gone out to: DWP, OFWAT, CCWater, C.A.B., AgeConcern, MP's, e-mail networks and forums around the UK.)

    Pass it on.
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