Watering down a debt problem?

Those who have problems with credit card debt and other forms of borrowing may have these compounded by high water bills, making it harder to find the…

Those who have problems with credit card debt and other forms of borrowing may have these compounded by high water bills, making it harder to find the cash to pay back what they owe.

Such consumers may be pleased to learn that the government is to try to do something about the difficulties faced by many, with new plans being announced by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said: “We know that some households are really struggling with their water bills,” identifying the south west as the region where bills are highest.

She added: “Our plans will increase the help available for vulnerable households right across England, with special help for people in the south west who, through no fault of their own, are battling astronomical water bills during a difficult economic climate.”

The plans will include helping vulnerable people with water meters by capping their bills at the average figure for their region, while social tariffs – a system used by energy providers – will be applied to water and sewerage services as well.

And proposals will be developed to offer extra help for those living in the south west.

However, while such measures may lower water bills, those who owe a lot of money may still find their debt is such that they need other help, such as a debt management plan or an individual voluntary arrangement.

And while water bills have come down, there has been renewed concern about gas and electricity bills this week.

Price comparison website uSwitch.com has revealed three out of the six cheapest tariffs have been withdrawn by their providers in the past week.

By Joe White

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