The project has helped new cases every day and has led to the teams working on 1,106 additional customer accounts averaging a £170 reduced bill for each, with total reductions for the customers of £190k so far.
The scheme was introduced in August and was the first time a local authority and South-East Water had worked together to enable the application of a reduced tariff (Social Tariff) to eligible residents. (The criteria for receiving the Social Tariff is household income of under £16,385.)
It is estimated that when the scheme is completed it will result in over 7,000 residents benefitting from the Social Tariff and South East Water applying reductions totalling £680k. 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:
It is great to be able to share a ‘good news story’ after what has been a particularly difficult year for so many people.
When we looked at this project with South East Water, MBC was determined to help as many low-income residents as possible. We were aware that households were entitled to the discounts but realised that all too often the householders didn’t know.
This project has already identified 4,000 customers not already on the Social Tariff receive a substantial reduction in their water bills. I am delighted to know that we are working with together we can help more residents that need it.
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 Services Director Tanya Sephton said:
We are pleased this innovative way of working with our partners has had positive results already.
This project will continue to help us support our customers who need it most, but perhaps are unaware they are eligible.
Even before the issues caused by a global pandemic, we know there are many households struggling, but for many reasons had not sought help.
By offering this service, we can reach out to those households much more easily.
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