Water firms must promote support for struggling customers

Water companies must improve the promotion of their social tariffs to struggling customers, as only a third of eligible households have so far signed up to the scheme.

The call comes from the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), which warned that tens of thousands of poor households in England and Wales are missing out on support which could significantly reduce their water bills.

Nineteen out of the 21 water companies across England and Wales now have social tariffs, with the remaining two – Bournemouth Water and Hartlepool Water – expected to launch schemes in 2017.

Social tariffs have the potential to help more than 400,000 struggling households, but less than a third of customers (128,200) who could receive help have so far signed up.

Bill reductions range considerably but in some cases can be as much as 90 per cent, depending on each water company’s tariff and a customer’s financial circumstances.

CCWater senior policy manager Andy White said: “Although there is now more help than ever before to support water customers, thousands of struggling households continue to miss out.

“We are working with water companies to help them improve the promotion of their schemes and raise awareness of the help which is available.”

Bill reductions range considerably but in some cases can be as much as 90 per cent, depending on each water company’s tariff and a customer’s financial circumstances.

In its 2015/16 annual report, published last month, CCWater said affordability remained a “pressing priority”, with one in eight water customers, and one in seven in Wales, saying their water charges were not affordable.