Money Wellness
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category iconbills
calendar icon11 Apr 2024

Trust in water companies falls as water bills increase

The majority of households aren’t satisfied with their water company's environmental approach amid April price hikes, research from Ofwat, the water services regulation authority finds.

 Lynn Parker, senior director for casework, enforcement, and customers at Ofwat, said: “This study underscores a concerning trend of declining satisfaction and eroding trust among customers of water companies, especially when it comes to their environmental performance. This breakdown in public confidence is of the companies’ own making, reflecting their own shortfalls in performance.”

Key findings from the study:

  • Only 58% of customers are satisfied with the quality of their water supplier, which is a drop from 65% in 2021
  • Only 23% of customers trust their water supplier to look after the environment
  • Only 21% of customers believe their suppliers acts in the best interest of the environment
  • 50% of billpayers said they struggled regularly with household bills
  • 65% of billpayers with a health condition, long-term illness or disability struggle with their bills

 Ofwat is now allowed to give water companies fines worth up to 10% of their turnover which is intended to punish suppliers that provide poor customer service or do not comply with new licence conditions when it comes to wastage.

 As part of this, water bosses were banned from getting bonuses if a company had committed serious criminal breaches.

Following the hikes in price and dissatisfaction, Jenny Suggate, director of policy, research and campaigns at the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), has called for more support to struggling families to come from water firms. She said: “Customers’ diminishing trust in water companies is not going to be reversed until people begin to see and feel a marked improvement in both the service they receive and the state of the environment.

 “The rise in people contacting their water company with concerns over their bill underlines why the industry must not turn its back on the commitment it made five years ago to end water poverty by 2030.”

Struggling with water bills?

If you’re struggling to pay your water bill, talk to your provider as soon as possible. You might be able to spread payments over a longer period through a payment plan.

Many water companies have hardship schemes or grants available that can help you pay your bills. Ask you water company what help they can provide. You can also check what help is available on the CCW website.

If you’re on certain benefits, you might also be eligible for the Watersure scheme.

The Watersure scheme helps some people with their water bills. To be eligible for the scheme, you must be on benefits and need to use a lot of water either for medical reasons or because your household has a certain number of school-age children. You also need to be on a water meter or waiting to have one installed.

If you get help through the Watersure scheme, your water bills will be capped so you won’t pay more than the average metered bill for your area.

In some cases, your normal metered water bill could be less. If this applies to you, you’ll only be billed for the amount of water used.

You can apply for the Watersure scheme by completing the form on your water company’s website. You’ll need to supply evidence that you qualify.

 

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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