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Minister challenged on water poverty

June 15, 2007 10:21 PM
Julia with water bils petition

Julia Goldsworthy MP keeps up the water bills campaign for Cornwall

Cornwall's MPs have met with DWP Minister, Jim Murphy to raise the impact that that the region's high water bills are having on poverty in the county.

At the meeting, the Minister was left with no doubt that the Government's own targets on reducing poverty will not be met unless urgent action is taken. The MPs have long argued that tackling the problem, resulting from the botched privatisation of the water industry by the last Conservative administration, will require co-ordinated action between across Government departments, South West Water and the water regulator, OFWAT. The meeting with Mr Murphy was therefore the first in a series of meetings that will take place over the coming months.

During the meeting, the Minister undertook to seek representations from colleagues in DEFRA and the Treasury in order to investigate what action they are taking to alleviate the financial burden that is crippling so many Cornish households.

Speaking after the meeting, Falmouth and Camborne MP, Julia Goldsworthy, said:

"The commitment from the Minister to liaise with colleagues across government was very important. I have consistently made it clear that regulatory reform is needed and co-ordinated action is therefore required across the Treasury, DWP and DEFRA in order for more progress to be made."

"Further meetings will follow over the coming months and I hope that the Government is now beginning to accept that the current situation is not only incredibly unfair, but is also unsustainable."

Colin Breed, MP for South East Cornwall added:

"Ministers have said much about how tackling child poverty is one of its top priorities. Unless urgent action is taken to tackle the fact that some of the poorest households in the country are left to pay the highest water bills, the Government will fail to meet its own poverty targets.

"I hope that the progress made at this meeting is now set to continue."