The Consumer Council for Water has today welcomed the publication of new research which echoes our own concerns that many vulnerable water customers are still not getting the support they need.
The report by industry regulator Ofwat confirms there has been a significant increase in the amount of assistance offered by water companies to customers in potentially vulnerable circumstances.
But the number of customers in need of targeted support – whether financial or otherwise – is still likely to be much bigger than the 500,000 who have signed up to major schemes, including WaterSure and social tariffs, in England and Wales.
Andy White, Senior Policy Manager at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We know from our own research that many of the most financially vulnerable customers are suffering in silence and in some cases sacrificing other essentials, like heating or food, to pay their water bills. Many water companies have taken big strides towards providing more assistance through schemes like social tariffs, but the industry must do more to reach those who are too embarrassed to ask for help, or simply don’t know that it is available.”
“But vulnerability is about much more than just stretched finances. That’s why we want to see water companies do more to find out which customers are at risk of vulnerability and ensure tailored support is made available to those who need it.”