Water companies are committed to helping households by charging stable and affordable prices. Ofwat’s report on affordability and debt (Tuesday 1 December) shows that companies are offering more support than ever to customers in need.
Customers have seen a huge increase in assistance over the past five years, with over 250,000 customers now on companies’ special assistance registers to receive tailored services based on their needs – an increase of nearly 100% – and nearly three times as many customers benefiting from the reduced WaterSure tariff.
Over the next five years, companies will be providing even more support, more than doubling the number of people who benefit from financial support to an estimated 1.8 million by 2020.
As part of their package of affordability support measures, all water companies currently either have social tariffs already in place, or are on track to implement a social tariff in 2016.
These tariffs help customers who are struggling to pay to reduce their bills – but are only one of the ways in which companies provide help for customers who are struggling. In 2015-16 water companies will provide a package of measures worth more than £40 million to support customers who are struggling to pay or in debt, including working with partners to provide debt and financial advice.
Water companies will continue to look for new ways to help customers who are struggling and to make sure that assistance goes to those who need it most.
Despite the many assistance schemes that companies operate, Ofwat’s latest figures show that bad debt adds £21 onto the bills of customers who do pay. Water companies will work with regulators and government to ensure that they have the tools they need to help those customers who need assistance, and to ensure that those who could pay do.