In June 2012, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) published an initial issues paper for its review of prices for water, sewerage, stormwater drainage and other services for Hunter Water. In this submission, PIAC responds to both that issues paper and the pricing proposal from Hunter Water. Hunter Water proposed a price increase of 8.3% above inflation over fours years. Hunter Water also proposed to change its price structure, increasing the percentage of the bill made up by water usage and reducing the percentage of the bill that goes towards fixed charges. This submission makes recommendations about a number of improvements to Hunter Water’s customer assistance programs. These include that Hunter Water should allow customer access to Centrepay, increase its funding to No-Interest Loan Schemes, promote the availability of customer assistance schemes and report on the performance of customer assistance programs and hardship indicators. PIAC also recommends that Hunter Water examine options to provide assistance to renters, who stand to be disadvantaged by the proposed changes to Hunter Water’s pricing structure.
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