Luke Pollard calls for a national affordability scheme to ease Plymouth's water bills
We all know that the south west has the highest water bills in the country thanks to a botched Tory privatisation in the 1980s. As gas and electric bills rise it has a bigger impact here in Plymouth because of the legacy of high water bills. There are still too many people out of work and too many people in work struggling to pay their bills.
That's why today I'm calling for a national affordability scheme to be introduced to help water bill payers in the south west. At present South West Water runs a scheme that shares the cost of supporting people who are struggling amongst existing water bill payers. Although the right thing to do, this means that our bills are getting higher still.
Labour's plan for a national affordability scheme would mean the cost of supporting south west water bill payers could be shared across the entire country not just people already paying the highest water bills in the country.
A national affordability scheme won't solve the problem overnight but it will help many who struggle to pay their bills and could also help every bill payer as the cost is shared more fairly across the country.
There's still lots of detail to be worked out but it is clear to me that the recent visit by Angela Smith MP, Labour's Shadow Water Minister, to Plymouth was time well spent and she has taken our experience of high water bills back to policy makers in London.
A national affordability scheme across all bill payers would share more of the cost across more people, potentially resulting in lower bills, a fairer system and it would go some way to address the leftover impact of the Tories botched 1980’s privatisation for which we are all still paying the price.
When selected, I promised to fight for Plymouth running up to the General Election as well as, hopefully, after 2015 as Plymouth Sutton and Devonport's new MP. Part of that is getting our concerns heard at the highest levels and I'm especially pleased that Angela Smith, the Shadow Water Minister and Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary are listening to Plymouth. Maria sent this quote:
“More than two million households in England and Wales are forced to spend more than five per cent of their household income on the cost of water. We need an effective way to make sure our water is more affordable for all families.”
If you're experiencing problems with the cost of living crisis and would like to share your story with me please get in touch.