Support is available for paying water bills

For many water customers, the due date for water bills is fast approaching, and the Consumer Council for Water wants customers to know that support is available for those struggling to afford water and sewerage charges.

Customers who are unable to pay their bill should notify their water company as soon as possible. Making the company aware of the situation ensures water customers can get the support they need. Water companies may be able to offer more flexible payment options which allow customers to pay charges in a way that suits their circumstances better, such as a weekly or monthly payment plan.

Many water companies have set up trusts or other schemes which might help eligible customers clear some outstanding debt. Individual water companies have different application procedures, and there are different criteria which customers must meet to be eligible for these schemes. Customers are encouraged to contact their local water company to find out more.

Where customers have got behind with their water bills and are in receipt of certain income related benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions may be able to provide budgeting help by deducting a set amount from benefit and paying it direct to the water company until the arrears are cleared. Customers who think they could be eligible should contact their water company or the Department for Work and Pensions to apply.

Customers who have three or more children under 19 in full time education, or a medical condition that means they need to use more water, and pay their water bills based on metered charges are eligible for help under the WaterSure scheme if they also receive income related benefits. WaterSure caps a household’s water bill at the average rate for their area so vulnerable households can use the water they need without having to worry about a high bill.

Customers who think they may be eligible should contact their water company. Those who sign up have the potential to save a significant amount. A household of five with a water meter could be spending around £700 per year on water. By applying for the WaterSure scheme a low income household could cut this bill in half.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “One in six customers tell us that their water bills are unaffordable, and we are putting pressure on the Government to address the issue more directly.

“If customers are worried about paying their water bills they should not hesitate in contacting their local water company. Water companies may be able to offer more flexible payment options and many companies have set up trust funds or other schemes which might help eligible customers clear some outstanding debt.

“Consumer Council for Water staff can also explain the options available and point customers in the right direction during what can be a stressful time. We’re here to make sure customers get the help they are entitled to, and there is no charge for contacting us.”

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