This is the first-time South-East Water and a local authority have worked together. South East Water has been able to apply a reduced tariff (Social Tariff) to eligible residents. (The criteria for receiving the Social Tariff is household income of under £16,385.)
Over 7,000 residents will benefit from the Social Tariff. Fresh water is capped at a ceiling amount. For wastewater, customers receive a reduction of either 25% or 50% depending on their circumstances.
Maidstone Borough Council Leader, Cllr David Burton said:
“The past year and half has seen some very challenging times for many people across our borough and particularly for many low-income residents.
“Simply put, we at MBC know who the households are that are entitled to the discounts but often the householders don’t know that they are eligible. We are putting the two together to help those residents on the lowest income get substantial reductions in their water bills.”
To help identify those people eligible for the Social Tariff, the Council and South East Water worked under the basis of the Digital Economy Act: (Digital Economy Act 2017 (legislation.gov.uk) legislation which has enabled both parties to share names/addresses of qualifying households from Council Tax Support claimants to automatically put residents onto the Social Tariff.
South East Water’s Customer Service Director Tanya Sephton said:
“We believe we are the first water company to use the legislation with a council to help identify our customers who may need a helping hand with their water bill. It means our customers will get the assistance they need without delay or having to seek that help directly.
“We have worked with councils and Third Sector organisations such as Citizens’ Advice for many years to encourage those eligible to come forward. However, we cannot assume all our customers on a low income seek support and advice, so this system will make sure those who meet the criteria are on the correct tariff.
“This is a long-term project and we are now looking to other local authorities for partnership working in this way.”
Qualifying customers in the borough of Maidstone who are not already on the Social Tariff will be advised by South East Water in writing that they have automatically been given the reduced rate.
For more information about the Social Tariff please go to: https://southeastwater.co.uk/get-help/help-paying-your-bill