Welsh Water announces a pilot to help working households along with bill levels for 2023/24
2 February 2023
Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales, is piloting a scheme aimed at providing working household customers with vital temporary support to pay their water bills as the cost of living crisis continues.
It has also advised that most of its household customers will see an increase in their typical combined water and wastewater bills of between 8% and 9.4% from April.
The rise is due to the significant increase in the rate of inflation which is running at a 40 year high, in particular affecting the price of energy and chemicals, reflecting the well-publicised global and national factors affecting the economy.
To date, working households haven’t usually been eligible for financial assistance from Welsh Water, but the company’s pilot scheme will enable them to apply for support from its newly established ‘Cymuned’ (Community) Support Fund. The pilot scheme offers short term support to working households who find themselves in a situation where their bills exceed their income.
Under this scheme, households that qualify may receive a three month ‘charge free’ period, equating to a discount of around £100-£120 on the average bill. Those who apply will need to have their financial situation assessed through an Income and Expenditure assessment which is completed by trusted organisations, such as Citizens Advice.
The pilot scheme is being trialled across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Denbighshire until June before a decision is taken on wider roll-out.
The company already offers a range of financial support to over 144,000 household customers to help them pay their bills – the highest number it has ever supported. From April 2023 customers on its HelpU tariff will have their annual bill capped at £291, a significant reduction on the average household bill of £499.
The company actively promotes the support it offers and regularly attends affordability events held in communities across its area.
Welsh Water is urging any customer who may be facing difficulties to contact the company as soon as possible. This will allow customers to discuss the range of available options including flexible payment schemes or installing a water meter which would benefit households as they reduce their use of water.
Welsh Water’s Chief Financial Officer, Mike Davis, said:
"We know that many working customers in the communities we serve are struggling as they face increased pressure on household budgets. Our pilot scheme is designed to provide eligible households with financial breathing space. Anyone living in the Denbighshire or Rhondda Cynon Taf areas who thinks they may benefit from the scheme is advised to get in touch.
“The increase in our household bills in 2023-4 is directly the result of inflation which is currently running at the highest level seen in 40 years. Whilst we have absorbed as much of these costs as possible, we are not immune to these pressures."
Rhodri Williams, Wales Chair for the Consumer Council for Water, said:
"More people are struggling to make their income stretch to cover the cost of essentials like water, so we’re really pleased to see Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water exploring new ways to offer financial relief to working households. Low awareness of existing support also remains a stumbling block which is why one of our priorities is working with the company and support agencies in Wales to make sure help reaches those that need it most.
"For some households the simplest way to save money is to switch to a water meter and the fact you can trial one for two years means you’ve really got nothing to lose."