Thousands of low-income households across England and Wales are being urged by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) not to miss out on a raft of schemes which could stop water bills from draining their finances.
Eighteen out of 21 water companies will have social tariffs in place from April 1, with the potential over time to significantly reduce water bills for almost half a million customers who are struggling to pay.
South Staffs Water, Cambridge Water and Dee Valley Water will become the latest companies to launch their own schemes next month, when the average water and sewerage bill across England and Wales is set to rise by £2 to £389. Portsmouth Water will also have a new tariff in place to help those on low incomes from July.
CCWater has welcomed the roll out of social tariffs, having worked with companies on their development, but warned that many households are missing out on the help available to them due to a lack of awareness or reluctance to ask for help.
Andy White, Senior Policy Manager at CCWater, said: “We know from our research that one in eight households feel their water bill is not affordable. Help is waiting for thousands of customers, but many simply don’t expect to be able to get assistance from their water company.
“Our message is very simple – don’t suffer in silence, ask your water company if you qualify for help. Social tariffs can reduce bills by more than 50 per cent in some cases, and are usually just one of the ways companies can help those facing financial difficulties.”
Wessex Water and Bristol Water already operate social tariffs but are both adding new schemes from April 1, targeted at helping those who receive Pension Credit.
The other water companies with social tariffs are Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Essex and Suffolk Water, Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water, South East Water, South West Water, Southern Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Thames Water and Yorkshire Water.
CCWater has produced a quick and easy-to-use online guide for households to check whether they might qualify for a social tariff which is available at www.ccwater.org.uk
The water watchdog has also teamed up with poverty relief charity Turn2Us to launch a Benefits Calculator and Grants Search tool on its website to help consumers work out if they could be entitled to additional financial support.