Financial help for water bills on the rise
The number of low-income households in Yorkshire receiving financial help from us has risen 18% per cent to more than 26,902 in the past year, but the water sector watchdog is calling for greater help to ensure all those who need help get it.
Across the whole of England and Wales, around 400,000 customers are currently receiving financial assistance from their local water company in the form of bill reductions and help with debt payments.
But the watchdog, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), remains concerned that on-going financial assistance with water bills is only available to around one in five customers who need it.
Last year, we allocated £8m to help vulnerable and low-income households and our most popular social tariff, WaterSupport, reduces the bills for low income families whose annual water bills reaches at least £425.
Dean Stewart, Head of Customer Service, said: “We have the second lowest bills in England and Wales and work hard to provide vital support to families struggling to pay their bills. But we understand more can be done and this is why we’re planning to reach out to even more customers to help them through difficult times. More customers than ever are also switching to water meters which we install free of charge and can help to reduce water bills.”
CCWater’s report Staying afloat: Addressing customer vulnerability in the water sector, shows that more than 260,500 low-income bill payers in England and Wales have seen their water and sewerage charges slashed through social tariffs – up 93 per cent on the previous year.
The consumer body has worked with the industry to boost awareness of customer-funded social tariffs but funding for some of these schemes has already dried up.
CCWater is now challenging water companies to find the additional money needed to reach a greater number of customers.
Andy White, Senior Policy Manager at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Water companies have taken big strides towards helping more customers in financial hardship, but it’s still only scratching the surface.”
“No one should have to struggle to afford something that is so essential for them to live a healthy life. Water companies have the power to change this by dipping into their own pockets to increase the amount of support on offer.”
Customers in Yorkshire who are in need of financial or other forms of assistance can find out more by visiting our support webpage.