Money Wellness
Illustrated image of a tap pouring water into a glass. Households face up to a 90% rise in water bills. How to reduce water bills
category iconcost of living
calendar icon22 May 2024

Households face water bills rising by up to 91%

Water companies across England and Wales have proposed increasing bills between 24% and 91% to fund infrastructure improvements, including pipe replacements and sewage reduction.

The figures have been compiled by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW). They reveal that Southern Water is planning on increasing its prices the most, with South Staffordshire and Cambridge Water being the most conservative when it comes to rises.

The main need for the price rises is to generate £100 billion in funding to improve outdated infrastructure, which includes replacing aging pipelines.

It will also be used to curb sewage discharges to avoid future situations like the one that play out in Devon last week where a diarrhoea-type illness was spread through drinking water, resulting in 70 people becoming sick.

Price rises are unaffordable for millions

The huge price increases are unaffordable for many households already struggling with cost-of-living pressures. A survey by Ofwat found that less than one in six households considered the proposed increases affordable.

However, Ofwat is expected to approve the price rises in the coming months. Although water companies are likely to only be able to charge about half of what they have requested.

Water company trust at 13-year low

The huge water bill rises come at a time when trust in water companies hits a 13-year low, with households concerned about environmental performance.

65% of those surveyed said they were dissatisfied with sewage services and had real concerns about wastewater disposal and the cleaning process.

Only half of households believed their water provider cared about the service it delivers, which indicates a fall in customer trust in recent years.

The result of these worries is that only 55% of households consider their bills to be reasonable – the lowest level ever recorded.

What help is available if you can’t afford to pay your increased water bill?

Many water providers have hardship schemes, much like energy companies, or can put you in touch with grant providers who can help.

Speak to your water company as soon as you realise you have a problem, and they will help you.

If you’re claiming a means-tested benefit such as universal credit, housing benefit, or pension credit. And use a lot of water for medical reasons or because you have school-age children, you could be entitled to help through the WaterSure scheme.

WaterSure is a scheme that helps low-income households with their water bills by capping the amount they can be charged. This means you won’t pay more than the average metered bill for your area.

Your water company might also be able to provide you will free devices that help you use less water, such as special shower heads and taps.

You may be entitled to help with water bills from the Household Support Fund. What you’ll get will depend on how your local council has chosen to allocate its funding. Contact them for more details.

Helpful ways to use less water that will reduce your bills

Here’s some tips on how to reduce the amount of water you use and help you save on bills:

  • Make sure you’re on a water meter so only pay for what you use
  • Spend less time in the shower
  • Turn the tap on and off when brushing your teeth or washing the pots
  • Use the dishwasher instead of washing up
  • Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are filled when used
  • Fix dripping taps and leaks
  • Replace outdated/inefficient appliances
  • Fit a device in your toilet cistern to reduce the size of the flush
  • Collect rainwater by installing a water butt and use what is collected to water the garden
  • Don’t water your lawn – grass is hardy and will grow back even if it isn’t watered
Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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