South Staffs Water offers advice if you struggle to pay water bills
Walsall-based South Staffs Water is offering customers advice on how the company can help if they are having difficulties paying their water bills.
The company offers a range of options, from instalment plans through to operating a charitable trust which gives grants to those facing extreme financial problems.
Rachel Barber, Customer Services Director for SSW, said: "We're proud that our water charges continue to remain among the lowest in the country, but nevertheless, we recognise that sometimes customers struggle to pay the bill. There may be things we can do to help - and you may also be able to find ways yourself to save money on the bill. We can only help if you let us know that you're having problems, so please call to let us know straight away."
One of the options that can generally be offered is to reach agreement on monthly, fortnightly or weekly repayments tailored to meet individual circumstances, while customers on Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support may be able to have repayments deducted straight from their benefits.
For those in extreme difficulty, the company has an independently run charitable trust, which can give grants towards arrears on the bill, provided the customer can make regular nominal payments also.
In addition, it may be possible to reduce the size of future bills. Many customers find their bills are lowered by having a water meter fitted; a general rule of thumb is that if a property has more bedrooms than the number of people living in it, then metered bills are lower than those worked out on rateable value.
Metered customers in receipt of certain benefits and, who either have three or more children aged under 19 and in full-time education living with them, or who have someone living in the household with a medical condition leading to greater than normal water use, may qualify for capped charges through the WaterSure scheme.
We may also be able to offer an assessed charge where a customer requests to have a meter fitted, but we find that it is not possible to fit one. Assessed charges are fixed annually according to the type of property a customer lives in, and, unlike rateable charges, are not related to factors such as location. The charges can also be cut further, if the occupier can prove they live alone.
Customers can contact SSW to discuss their payment problems in confidence, by ringing: 0800 0930 610, or they may wish to speak to an independent organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. More information on the SSW Charitable Trust is available at: www.sswct.org or by ringing: 0300 3300033.