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All water and sewerage companies in England must offer the WaterSure scheme. Under the scheme, low income metered customers with a high essential use of water may have their bills capped at the company’s average bill if the household either is entitled to receive child benefit for three or more children under the age of 19 living at the home or if somebody in the house has a medical condition which necessitates high use of water. The cost is met by other customers at company level who provide a cross-subsidy to qualifying households.
From October 2013, Universal Credit will start to replace the range of current in and out of work benefits and tax credits with a single benefit. New claimants will begin to receive Universal Credit from October 2013 and existing claimants will start to be moved on to Universal Credit in April 2014. The process is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2017. By the time migration is complete we intend Universal Credit to have replaced most of the benefits and tax credit which currently form the basis of qualification for WaterSure.
We intend to add Universal Credit to the list of benefits which currently appear as qualifying criteria in the Water Industry (Charges) (Vulnerable Groups) Regulations 1999 in April 2013. We intend for everyone who receives Universal Credit, whether they are in or out of work, and regardless of their income, to be potentially eligible for WaterSure . When all claimants of the existing “legacy” benefits have been migrated to Universal Credit we intend to remove the reference to those legacy benefits from the regulations. We intend to remove reference to Council Tax Benefit in the regulations from April 2013. Once this process is complete, we intend the regulations to only refer to two kinds of benefits as qualifying criteria for WaterSure: Universal Credit and Pension Credit. This is likely to be in 2017. We believe that this will result in the eligible population remaining broadly stable. The amount of money that non-eligible customers pay to fund WaterSure will also remain broadly similar.
This consultation is aimed at water customers, organisations representing customers, water and sewerage companies. We welcome responses from all interested parties.
How to respond
Please e-mail responses no later than 14 December 2012 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or if you wish you can send in your response by letter to:
Water Reform and Customers Team
Area 2C Ergon House
Telephone: 020 7238 1526