New rules to protect vulnerable water customers
Ofwat, the water industry regulator has set our clear minimum standards for water companies to make sure that people who need extra help are provided with the level of service they need.
The new vulnerability guidance recognises some customers need extra help to access water and waste services, such as those who’re sick, have a disability or have mental health problems.
Under the guidance, water companies will be expected to:
- Provide a high standard of service and support for vulnerable customers
- Develop services that are inclusive by design
- Identify customers who need extra help
- Record their needs
- Develop and implement vulnerable strategies
To help form the measures, Ofwat consulted with over 30 organisations including Scope, Age UK and Mencap.
The standards come ahead of water bill rises expected this year, with some experts predicting they’ll soar by almost 50% between now and 2030.
Why are water bills going up?
There are several reasons why water bills are increasing, including:
- An aging water infrastructure which requires investment and modernisation
- Sewage spills and pollution in British waterways which is expensive to clear up
- Warmer temperatures – 2023 was the hottest year on record – has put a strain on water resources
- The government’s regulations, which were designed to ensure water quality and ecosystem health, has come at a cost
How much is an average water bill?
Water bills vary from region to region depending on who supplies your water. Currently the average bill is around £448 per year.
How much will water bills rise by?
Water bills could rise by nearly 50% over the next 6 years. This means the average bill would be around £605 by 2030.
The region’s water companies expected to raise their prices the most are Southern Water (44%), Hafren Dyfrdwy (38%) Severn Trent Water (37%) and Wessex Water (29%).
What help can I get to pay my water bills?
If you’re on a low income – usually under £21,000 – or claiming benefits such as universal credit you might be eligible for a social tariff.
Each water company has its own social tariff for struggling customers so what you get will depend on your provider, but you could reduce your bill by as much as 90%.
And you don’t need to be on a water meter to qualify.
Start by contacting your water company who will assess your circumstances and decide what level of support you’re entitled too.
About 5.7 million households are eligible for a social tariff yet it’s estimated that £900 million goes unused each year.
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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