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Cornwall's Water Bills to Rise

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:00am 31st January 2012. (Updated at 3:50pm 31st January 2012)

Cornwall's water bills are going up - again.

From April the average family will have to fork out around £543 a year. The company says some of the money will be used to upgrade infrastructure.

Bodmin customer Emily Whitfield-Wicks said, "People are actually struggling because they have to make a choice between whether they can eat or cut back on food to pay the bills, or not have the electricity on."

The government promised a £50 rebate for South West Water customers but that will not start until 2013. By then critics say price rises will have wiped it out entirely.

Among the projects the company is planning to fund is a scheme for new apprenticeships and upgrading sewers and treatment works in Truro, Bodmin, Torpoint and St Austell. It will also extend its water quality text alert system to cover around forty beaches.

South West Water Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: "We will be making a huge investment in the infrastructure and economy of Cornwall. We will be working with hundreds of local suppliers to improve services for our customers and I'm particularly pleased to announce we will be offering 20 new apprenticeships at a time when youth unemployment is growing.

"We also know some customers have problems paying their bills, which is why we have decided to put in place practical measures and work with charities and community organisations to find and help those in the most need.

"Our WaterCare scheme has already assisted nearly 10,000 customers and we want to build on that success this year by making sure customers are on the tariff which suits them and offering advice sessions to up to a thousand small businesses on how to reduce their energy and water bills."

Campaigners say Cornish customers can look forward to a better deal.

Charles Howeson from the Consumer Council for Water insist things are finally levelling out:

"We have security of supply, the distribution network's in good nick, hosepipe bans and even standpipes, that's not going to happen in our lifetime, so what we've paid for, we've now got and it's good, and we're going to see other people's water bills rising much, much faster than ours now.

"Look at being on a meter if you're not on one. If you've got a rela problem affording this give South West Water a call, and note overall, most of the other water companies have got higher increases than ours, so we can breathe a slight sigh of relief."

Tips to Save Money on Water Bills

  • Consider going onto a water meter - but do your homework to check you can save. As a rough rule of thumb if there are more bedrooms in your home than people you might be able to save money. You can find an online calculator here. But you can also ask South West Water if it would be a better deal for you.
  • Use water saving devices in your toilet and shower. You can request a free water saving kit from South West Water here.
  • If you are on a low income you may be eligible for help... but it is up to you to ask. If you have a medical condition that means you use a lot of water or if you are on benefits and have three or more children under nineteen then you may be able to get a reduction on your bill. Check here.
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