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Further to paragraph 8.7 of their response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee report, Water Management (8th Report, HL Paper 191I), whether the statutory guidance to the Environment Agency is in the public domain.[HL7757]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The guidance referred to is in a document entitledThe Environment Agency's Objectives and Contribution to Sustainable Development: Statutory Guidance. The document is available on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/ea/sustain/index.htm.
Further to paragraph 8.13 of their response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee report, Water Management (8th Report, HL Paper 191I), whether the Department for Work and Pensions third party deduction scheme results in the very poor paying for their water usage while those in the economic tier above do not pay their water bills.[HL7759]
Water costs are one item provided for within the third party deductions scheme operated by the Department for Work and Pensions. This is a long-standing last-resort safety net for a minority of vulnerable people on certain benefits who have arrears of bills. An amount can be deducted from weekly benefit and paid directly to the water company or other creditor. Evidence from research shows that customers find the scheme helpful. This help is rightly targeted at people currently receiving benefit.
Further to the remarks by the Lord Rooker on 13 October (Official Report, col. 519), howthe pilot study in the south-west will assist in the payment of water bills if there is no change to the position where water can be supplied only on a limited basis to those who refuse to pay their bill.[HL7802]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The south-west pilot study is looking at how benefit entitlement checks, switching to meters and water efficiency measures could help low income households with their water bills. There are no plans to change the legislation prohibiting the disconnection or limiting of water supplies of customers for non-payment of bills.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): All water companies have water resource management plans, complementing the Environment Agency's national and regional strategies, which look ahead 25 years, and include projections of current and future demands for water. These plans are regularly updated to account for factors such as projections of household numbers and occupancy rates and the implications of climate change. Water companies' water resource management plans are currently produced voluntarily but will become statutory under provisions in the Water Act 2003.
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