Aigües de Barcelona, Sorea, Aigües Sabadell, Mina Pública d’Aigües de Terrassa and various drinking water distribution companies from Catalonia in which Agbar group companies have a stake, in addition to other supply companies, signed collaboration agreements today with the Ministry of Business and Knowledge of the Generalitat (autonomous government) of Catalonia to develop Law 24/2015.
Thanks to these agreements, these companies undertake to grant non-refundable aid or to apply significant discounts to the cost of minimum consumption for people and family units at risk of social exclusion. These companies have some 3 million clients and supply around 5.9 million people in Catalonia.
The agreements signed today ratify the commitment of Aigües de Barcelona, Sorea, Aigües Sabadell, Mina Pública d’Aigües de Terrassa and the other signatory companies to guarantee the water supply of families in a situation of vulnerability.
In the case of Aigües de Barcelona, this commitment takes the form of the implementation of various measures on its own initiative in this sphere. One important measure is the Solidarity Fund, established in 2012 to provide an environment of protection for vulnerable people, with the collaboration of the social services from the councils of the 23 municipalities of Barcelona Metropolitan Area in which the company is present, in addition to several Third Sector organizations, such as Red Cross Catalonia, Cáritas Diocesana, Fundació Hàbitat3, Fundació l’Esperança and Fundació Mambré. Since the Solidarity Fund was set up four years ago, Aigües de Barcelona has granted about 74,000 subsidies, which have benefited over 14,500 families, at a cost of over €4.3m.
Moreover, in January 2014, the social tariff came into force, offering considerable discounts to groups which also need protection, such as pensioners and the unemployed, to whom the water supply guarantee also applies. At present, around 9,000 supplies benefit from Aigües de Barcelona’s social tariff. Finally, the company has flexibility mechanisms involving deferrals or payment in instalments individualized for each situation of vulnerability of which it becomes aware.
In accordance with these agreements, the companies will also report annually to the Catalan Consumer Agency (ACC) on the scope of the measures introduced. This will allow the Generalitat to be able, in addition to guaranteeing compliance with the Law, to increase and systematize all the information in order to assess the evolution of energy poverty and prepare the most appropriate policies at each moment.