Money Wellness
Image of someone filling a glass from a kitchen tap. What if you can't pay your water bill
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calendar icon05 Feb 2024

Water bills to rise by 6% on average

Last week Water UK announced households bills for water and sewage would increase by 6% from April.

This rise equates to an extra £27 a year and takes the amount an average household will pay for water up to £473.

Water UK said the increase was necessary to fund infrastructure improvements and help clean up Britian’s waterways.

It will also create 20 new reservoirs, cut leaks and stop the equivalent of 6,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools-worth of sewage being dumped into our rivers.

Water UK has vowed to help more than two million low-income households with the increased costs.

According to a report by Sky News, Wessex Water and Anglian Water customers face the highest average charges of £548 and £529 respectively. While Northumbrian customers will have the lowest average bills at £422.

What are water bills?

You pay a bill for the supply of water and/or sewage to be removed. You will be charged by which every water company supplies your area and what you will pay differs from region to region.

Your supplier will normally charge you in one of three ways:

Metered charges

If you have a water meter you will pay for exactly what you use. Your metered bill will usually be made up of a standing charge and a volumetric charge for your water and waste. The standing charge is a fixed annual fee. The volumetric charge is based on how much water you use.

You may be able to save money on your bill by switching to a water meter. Having a meter installed will also allow you to adjust your usage as and when necessary.

You can have a meter fitted free of charge.

Unmetered charges

If you do not have a water meter, you’re an unmetered customer. Your bill is not based on how much water you use.

Instead, it’s usually made up of a:

  • Fixed charged (or standing charge), which covers things like billing and customer service costs; and
  • Charge based on the rateable value of your home

Your water company can advise you if you might be able to save money by switching to a water meter.

Assessed charges

Your water company can refuse to install a water meter at your home if it’s not practical or is too expensive to fit one.

If you can’t have a water meter installed, your water company must offer you an assesses charge. This is an alternative to your standard unmetered charge.

You will not be offered an assessed charge unless you apply for a meter.

Assessed charges are based on:

  • The number of bedrooms in your house
  • The type of property you live in
  • The number of people who live in your property
  • The average metered bill in the water company’s area

The way that assessed charges are set varies from provider to provider.

Struggling to pay your water bill?

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 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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