Water companies urged to use profits to help bolster support for those struggling to pay

The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) has called for action from water companies on the same day Water UK confirmed the average household water and sewerage bill in England and Wales will rise by about £27 to £473 from 1 April.

This is a 6 per cent average increase but regional variations and other individual factors – such as whether a customer is metered and how much water they use – means some households could face rises significantly above or below the average.

More than 2 million customers are receiving some form of support from companies with paying their water bill. This includes over 1.3 million low-income households in England and Wales receiving cheaper bills through companies’ social tariff schemes. These reduced bills for eligible customers by an average of £151 last year. However an even greater number of customers in need of help are slipping through the net, due to factors including low awareness and variations in eligibility criteria.

Five water companies are currently using some of their own profits to help fund social tariffs, which rely heavily on customer cross-subsidies. CCW wants the rest of the industry to join Welsh Water, Severn Trent, Yorkshire Water, SES Water and United Utilities in putting their hand in their own pocket.

Mike Keil, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said:

“Almost a fifth of households say they struggle to pay their water bill and these rises will heap even greater pressure on low-income customers. If water companies are serious about rebuilding trust in the sector they should use some of their profits to help people who cannot afford another bill rise.

“The water industry made a commitment five years ago to end water poverty in England and Wales and it needs to keep that promise. Crisis-hit households need immediate relief and the long-term security of knowing they can afford something as essential as water, without having to make painful sacrifices.”

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