A Facebook group has been created for former tenants waiting for water bill rebates, following a court judgement that the council’s bill collection deal with Thames Water was illegal.
Former Bermondsey tenant Kelleigh East set up the group, called ‘Former Tenants Still Waiting for Their Water Refunds from Southwark Council’, after realising many of her friends and old neighbours were still waiting to be refunded.
Kelleigh, 37, told the News: “I set up the group because Southwark is taking the mick.
“I have been waiting 28 weeks for my refund. I’m owed about £130, but I have friends who are owed hundreds. I hope people join the group so people can see what’s going on. There could be thousands who could join.
“At the end of the day they have made a mistake and we are the ones suffering. Waiting this long is completely unprofessional. I’ve called the Complaints Department nearly every day, and they keep telling me ‘it will be a few weeks’.”
Around 74,000 current and former tenants were entitled to rebates after being overcharged on water-service bills between April 2001 and July 2013, and are all entitled to a refund.
The High Court judgement also pushed Southwark to end its contract with Thames Water. From April, the company will begin billing council tenants directly, rather than through the council.
A Thames Water spokesman said this week:?“Customers will be set up on a regular payment plan and will receive their payment cards and bills in April, as well as our full support if they have any questions.”
Southwark tenants will also be sent a reply-paid envelope in case they want to request further information, the spokesman added. Thames Water also has a dedicated freephone number for customers.
Southwark Council has given an update on the pace of its refunds, stating that 43,327 cases have been processed (including some to tenants management organisations), while a total of 31,377 payments have been made.
The figures at the beginning of February were 41,857 cases processed and 30,448 payments made.
Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for housing, said the issuing of refunds had been a “complex process”, but that she was “pleased with the progress” that had been made.
“I thank residents for their patience while we continue to refund people,” Cllr Cryan said.