There are lots of ways that you can get help if you are struggling to pay your water bill. You can try to reduce your water bill or ask for some assistance if you have trouble understanding it. If you still experience financial difficulty then there are several schemes available which offer discounts. This guide will explain how you could save money on your bill and pay off any arrears.
Take Steps to Reduce Your Water Bill
If your water bill is too high, then consider switching to a water meter if you do not already have one. You could save money when you pay for the water that you actually use instead. Water meters encourage water efficiency. You can reduce your water bill by actively conserving water. Enquire about free water-saving devices from your water company and install them. Only use as much water as necessary when washing, cleaning, cooking, or gardening.
Ask Your Water Company for Extra Assistance
If you need help with understanding your bill or remembering to pay, then enquire about the Priority Services Register. This is for vulnerable people who need a bit of extra support. It could be in the form of more accessible bills, taking water meter readings for you, or providing faster contact and supplying bottled water when there is a disruption to your water supply. If you have fallen into arrears, then you can contact your water company to ask about setting up a payment plan to help you manage the repayments.
Apply for the WaterSure Scheme
If you do have a water meter and consume a lot of water, you may be able to cap the charges. The WaterSure scheme ensures that water companies don’t charge vulnerable customers for their extra water usage. This includes any person on income-related benefits or tax credits, any property where 3 or more children live, or any person living with a medical condition requiring high water usage. Examples of such conditions include weeping skin, home dialysis, or incontinence. If you successfully apply for WaterSure then your water company will cap your quarterly bills and you won’t have to pay more.
Apply for the Water Direct Scheme
If you are on certain benefits, then you might prefer for the water company to take payment for your water bill directly from your benefit. The DWP will deduct your water bill from your benefit payment and pay it directly to your water company for you. This helps to pay off current charges and arrears so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay or debt recovery action. You may even be able to get an annual discount when you pay this way. Usually, to be eligible for Water Direct you must be in arrears and currently receive:
- Income Support
- Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
Apply for a Low Income Tariff
Many water companies offer a low-income tariff for customers with a low household income. HMRC’s low-income threshold is currently £16,105 per year (excluding any benefits). You must also be receiving an income-related benefit as listed above for Water Direct to be eligible for a low-income tariff. Your water company might have a special name for it such as LIFT, LITE, or Social Tariff. They will set your annual water bill at a fixed amount, though this does not apply to sewerage charges. If your water bill is lower than this fixed amount, then you will not qualify for the Low-Income Tariff anyway.
Enquire About Water Company Charitable Trust Funds
In addition to the government-backed schemes above, water companies can offer financial support to customers through their own charitable trusts. If you are in arrears and have a low income, your water company could clear your debt. If you are eligible for support from the trust fund, then you will receive a grant to help you pay your water bills. Contact your water company to find out if they have a charitable trust fund and if your circumstances are eligible. Severn Trent and United Utilities have a Trust Fund, while Anglian Water, Dwr Cymru, and Thames Water have Assistance Funds. There is also South East Water’s Helping Hand, and Yorkshire Water’s Community Trust.