(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

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 –

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.'


OFWAT on water profits

Water charges and company profits: Position Paper:


Water Charges and Third Party Deductions from Benefits


(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.