The Consumer Council for Water North West is calling on the Government to make sure that money arising from a £8.5 million fine on United Utilities’ shareholders is used to help the company’s poorest customers.
Ofwat today ordered water and sewerage supplier, United Utilities, to pay the fine for breaches of regulations relating to trading arrangements with associate companies. Penalties of this kind are normally paid to Government. However, the region’s water watchdog is pressing for the money to be used to fund initiatives to help vulnerable customers who struggle to pay their water and sewerage charges.
Andrea Cook, Chairman of the Consumer Council for Water North West, said: “We believe that there are more innovative ways in which this money could be used to address debt problems for the poorest water customers in the North West.
“The money will be of little use to Treasury, but by supporting our proposal the Government could show that it is committed to doing something about water poverty.”
She added: “The North West is a region of high economic and social deprivation. Water debt and affordability are significant and growing issues. These problems not only affect low income households directly, but also have an impact on other customers as increased costs are passed on to them through price limits.
“We are disappointed that Ofwat did not make more of the opportunity to help consumers.”