A SINGLE mum from Tidworth was left shell-shocked when she received a near 300 per cent hike in her water rates from Aster Housing.

Samantha Jones, 32, who lives in a flat with her three-year-old son, saw her weekly water bill rise from £6 to £21.53 per week.

The increase left the unemployed mother-of-two fearing for her future in the Bourne Road property, claiming she would struggle to meet the extra outgoing on top of her other bills and could face eviction.

She says that, on querying the rise with the housing association, she was told it may have been caused by a leak and workmen were sent out to deal with the issue.

“I was then sent a bill for £13.62 per week, but it’s still an excessive amount as far as I’m concerned,” she said “It works out at over £700, I live in a flat with my youngest and I know people who live in threebedroomed houses that only have to pay £630 a year.”

She says that waiting to get the problems solved caused much stress.

“What makes it worse is their tardiness at replying to my enquiries.”

Samantha says that Wiltshire Councillor Mark Connolly has been trying, fruitlessly, to get the situation resolved on her behalf.

He said: “Aster have been less than forthcoming in their explanation as to why they have increased the water rates so excessively for the residents of Urchfont House.

“I appreciate they need to cover costs, but they need to explain fully or reduce the rates.”

An Aster Group Spokesman said: “We are working with customers at Urchfont House to address concerns they have raised regarding their water supply.

“We are trying to resolve this as a matter of urgency.”