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Water companies’ help for struggling households

Water companies understand that some of their customers are facing cost-of-living pressures. This is why the industry spends millions of pounds every year to give struggling households money off their water bills and offers a wide range of extra support and advice measures.

And although water bills comprise less than 1% of household expenditure, water companies continue to help all hard-pressed UK households by charging stable and affordable prices.

Almost all companies have recently confirmed they will hold down their bills to keep them in line with or lower than inflation from 2015-20.

One of the ways companies help their customers is by providing the national WaterSure tariff, and they have been promoting this widely to increase uptake, which has now reached more than 100,000.

In addition, in the past two years, six companies have introduced new social tariffs to provide further assistance. Already over 22,000 customers are benefiting from reduced bills as a result.

As water companies have developed social tariffs to meet the needs, and have the support, of their own customers, savings for individual households vary, with savings for those in most difficulty at 50% or more.

Other companies are well advanced in their planning to introduce new social tariffs, and by April 2015, most companies will have social tariffs in place.

Companies also provide a wide range of other affordability assistance measures that are tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of individual customers.

These include:

  • Contributing more than £10 million per year to the independently-run social funds and charitable trusts that they have set up. These funds are used to help clear customers’ debts and provide debt advice.
  • Accepting payments as low as a few pounds, and schemes to match customers’ payments to reduce arrears by writing off some or all of their debts. Around 100,000 households are already benefitting from these schemes and companies will be increasing this still further.
  • Investing in specialist staff and training so that they proactively seek customers who are struggling.
  • Providing millions of pounds of funding to Citizens Advice Bureaux and other regional debt and advice charities.
  • Giving customers on water meters get extra help to bring down their bills even further. For example, some companies install free water saving products such as dual-flush convertors, tap inserts and shower adapters that help customers use less water, so they save money.
  • Targeting and promoting metering to the customers on low incomes whom they expect will benefit both from a lower bill and from greater control of their bill.

Affordability – companies set out further support for UK households
Water UK briefing

For further information, please contact:

Water UK Communication