The due date for paying water bills is fast approaching but there is support available for those struggling to make the payments, says water watchdog the Consumer Council for Water.
Customers who are unable or struggling to pay their bill should inform their water company as soon as possible. Making the company aware of the situation means customers can get the support they need. Water companies can offer more flexible payment options which allow customers to pay charges in a way that better suits their circumstances, such as a weekly or monthly payment plan.
D?r Cymru Welsh Waters customers in financial hardship with arrears of £150 or more could be eligible for the Customer Assistance Fund which requires them to make regular payments towards their current charges. Customers should contact D?r Cymru Welsh Water to find out more.
Where customers are behind paying their water bills and are in receipt of certain income related benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may be able to provide budgeting help by deducting a set amount from benefits and paying it directly to the water company until the arrears are cleared. Customers who think they could be eligible for the Water Direct scheme should contact their water company or the DWP to apply. D?r Cymrus Welsh Waters customers can reduce their bill by £25 when they opt for this Water Direct scheme.
Customers receiving income related benefits and who can provide proof of a medical condition that means they use significantly more water, or have three or more dependant children, could get help under the D?r Cymru Welsh Water Assist scheme. Customers of Dee Valley Water who meet the same criteria and also have a water meter can apply for a similar scheme, called WaterSure.
A person living alone or a low consumption household could make a saving by having a water meter. Before making a switch to a meter, customers should visit the Consumer Council for Waters website (www.ccwater.org.uk) and use the handy water meter calculator to help them work out if they could save money by having a water meter fitted.
Generally, customers can switch back to the unmetered charge anytime within the first 12 months if they are unhappy with the change. If a meter cannot be fitted, customers can apply for an assessed measured charge which reflects what a likely metered bill would be.
By carefully reading through the water bill, customers may find other ways to save. For example, if they have a soakaway which drains rainwater into the ground rather than into the public sewerage system, they can apply to their sewerage company to have surface water drainage charges removed. This could typically save around £30 each year.
Diane McCrea, Chair of the Wales Committee of the Consumer Council for Water, said: One in seven customers tell us that their water bills are unaffordable. If customers are worried about paying their water bills they should not hesitate to contact their local water company and ask for help.
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. Were here to make sure customers get the help they are entitled to, and there is no charge for contacting us to get advice.