FinCap welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill (the Bill). We support financial mentors across Aotearoa in their work towards assisting whānau who are facing financial difficulty. Water services are essential to the health, wellbeing and social participation of whānau. Strong consumer protections for access along with efficient pricing of these services can prevent their contributing to financial difficulty in the first place.
We have seen examples internationally where many industries take cues from water entities on how to best look after all customers no matter their ability to pay. There is an opportunity for this Bill to not only ensure water entities have robust supports for those facing payment difficulty from their establishment. The entities could also set the standard for other essential services to meet and lift community wellbeing across the board.