Single social tariff research

Water affordability scheme – name testing

Creating a single social tariff to provide fair, consistent and sustainable support to water customers who struggle to afford their water bill was one of the key recommendations to emerge from our independent review of water affordability.

This scheme would replace the postcode lottery of financial assistance that currently exists across England and Wales and ensure the support people receive is based on their need – not where they live.

Defra and the Welsh Government have established a development group to explore our review’s recommendation for a new scheme.

To help inform its work, we carried out research to see what names would resonate most with customers if a scheme of this type was implemented.

Water Affordability Scheme Funding

One of the key recommendations to emerge from our independent review of water affordability was the creation of a new scheme that would provide consistent and fair support for customers that struggle to afford their water bill. This proposal is being further explored.

The recommendation for a single social tariff would ensure no-one has to spend more than 5 per cent of their income (after housing costs) on water charges. It would replace the current postcode lottery of support across England and Wales, where eligibility and the level of assistance offered can vary significantly.

Current social tariff schemes are funded through an additional levy on customers’ bills and it is likely that this would remain the case for any new scheme.

We wanted to understand whether customers would prefer to see their contribution used to support only households in their own water company region or as part of a wider fund to help people wherever they live. Our research also examined customers’ more general views on support schemes.

Defra and the Welsh Government has established a development group to explore our review’s recommendation for a new scheme. These findings will be shared with the group to help inform its work, as well as feeding into our own campaign to strengthen support for those households who find it a battle to afford their water bill.

Key findings

  • Three-quarters of customers agree that low-income households should receive help if they struggle to afford their bills; but
  • Awareness of existing support remains low, as identified in our previous research
  • Those aged over 55 are least aware of existing water bill support
  • A significant majority – around two thirds – of customers would favour any contribution they make to a scheme being put towards helping people who need it most, wherever they live