Watchdog calls on water firms to help low-income households

Consumer council reveals the number of households receiving help has more than doubled in the last year.

The Consumer Council for Water has urged utility firms to reach “into their own pockets” and further increase the amount of support for low-income households.

In a report published today (13 September), the watchdog reveals the number of homes in England and Wales receiving financial help from their water company has almost doubled to more than 400,000 in the past year.

According to the report, more than 260,500 low-income households have seen their water and sewerage charges cut through social tariffs.

While a further 141,000 homes have also registered for the industry’s WaterSure scheme, which caps the bills of those on low incomes.

But the watchdog adds it is concerned that on-going financial help with water bills is only available to around one in five customers who need it.

And it has called on the industry to do more to promote social tariffs and find more money to support them.

“Water companies have taken big strides towards helping more customers in financial hardship, but it’s still only scratching the surface,” said senior policy manager, Andy White.

“No one should have to struggle to afford something that is so essential for them to life a healthy life,” he added.

“Water companies have the power to change this by dipping into their own pockets to increase the amount of support on offer.”

Water UK Chief Executive Michael Roberts said: “The big increase in help being given to customers by their water companies reflects the major emphasis the industry places on supporting vulnerable people. Although water bills usually cost households just over £1 a day we know that many people can struggle to pay, which is why water companies provide them with help worth more than £40 million each year and are constantly looking at ways to target support at those who need it most. As the report acknowledges, we are on track to deliver financial support to an additional 1 million people by 2020.”

 

“The big increase in help being given to customers by their water companies reflects the major emphasis the industry places on supporting vulnerable people. Although water bills usually cost households just over £1 a day we know that many people can struggle to pay, which is why water companies provide them with help worth more than £40 million each year and are constantly looking at ways to target support at those who need it most. As the report acknowledges, we are on track to deliver financial support to an additional 1 million people by 2020.”

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