New programs introduced to help people with financial difficulties

New programs introduced to help people with financial difficulties

People struggling to pay their water bills and those with a specific medical conditions will benefit from new programs announced today by Premier Mark McGowan at the WA Council of Social Service 2018 Conference.

Three new programs will be available to Water Corporation customers from July 1, 2018.

The programs are:

  • Medical Assist – for households that have a family member with kidney disease undertaking home dialysis that requires higher water use. An allowance of up to 180,000 litres of water free of charge each year is available.
  • Start Over – will assist customers in hardship with a long-term outstanding debt. The Water Corporation will match a customer’s payments over a two-year period and then clear any outstanding debt, giving them a fresh start.
  • Time Assist – for people who have a consistent payment history but a recent event (such as a self-employed builder who has had an accident and is unable to work) results in them being unable to pay. Bills could be put on hold for up to three months.

Aqwest and Busselton Water Corporation customers already have access to similar financial hardship programs. From July 1, 2018, customers of Aqwest and Busselton Water Corporation will also have access to the Medical Assist program.

The Water Corporation’s new programs are in addition to other improved financial hardship initiatives, focused on early intervention, announced by the Minister for Water earlier this year.

Community Services Minister, Simone McGurk,  said, “the McGowan Government has allocated additional funding to the Hardship Utility Grants Scheme, and honoured its election commitment to reinstate financial counselling, but it is important for utility companies to continue to improve the programs they offer.”

“It is the responsibility of utility companies to work with their customers to address outstanding bills, not against them. The Water Corporation is leading the way on this.”

“Our priority is to ensure that those who are most in need are supported. Restricting someone’s water or electricity should be a very last resort.”

These measures have contributed to a decrease in the number of people who have had their water supply restricted, for non-payment of bills, down from 2,467 in 2016-17 to 922 in 2017-18 (as at April 30, 2018).