Welsh Water bills to fall from April and support available for customers struggling to make ends meet
2 February 2024
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has confirmed that its bills for the coming year are set to fall and are also reminding customers of the help it has available as the cost of living crisis continues.
The not-for-profit water company has announced that the typical combined water and wastewater bill for household customers will fall by between [0.1]% and [1.3]% from April. The reduction is due to penalties the company has incurred for supply interruptions and leakage during previous years.
While customers are set to see a reduction in charges, the company is aware that a lot of customers still find the economic conditions challenging. The company already supports around 145,000 of its customers who are genuinely struggling to pay their water bills – and still has capacity to support thousands more.
The company offers a range of support tariffs to customers to help them pay their bills.
One of the most popular is the HelpU tariff. This helps low-income households on a means tested benefit by putting a cap on the amount they pay for their water based on how many people are living at the property.
One customer who is already benefiting from HelpU is Bethan Davies who is a single mother from Llantwit Fardre.
Speaking about the tariff, Bethan said:
“I was at an appointment at the Job Centre when an advisor said that someone from Welsh Water was there to help customers with their bill. Initially, because I knew I was in debt with my water bill, I was worried about speaking to someone from Welsh Water. Now, I wish I’d done it much sooner.
“Jody, [Welsh Water Promotions Advisor], went through the options that could be available to me after looking at my income and said, ‘we can help you’. She helped me reduce my bill by £500, by setting me up on the HelpU tariff and helped make my payments more manageable so I can clear my debt. This will make a big difference to my family and I only wish I’d have spoken to Welsh Water sooner; they didn’t criticise and just wanted to help, I could have avoided a lot of stress.”
The company is also reminding customers of the Cymuned fund it launched last year which is aimed at providing working household customers with temporary support to pay their water bills.
To date, working households haven’t usually been eligible for financial assistance from Welsh Water, but the company’s scheme will enable them to apply for short term support where their household bills exceed their income. This is the only scheme of its kind being offered in the sector.
Under this scheme, households that qualify may receive a three month ‘charge free’ period.
Other ways the company is helping customers with paying their bills include:
- Customer Assistance Fund - which helps those in severe financial hardship to clear their debts and get on top of their payments.
- Flexible payment plans to help customers budget
- A system to pay charges or debt through benefit payments, and
- Offering to install a water meter where this could help reduce the bill.
The company actively promotes the support it offers and regularly attends affordability events held in communities across its area. Last October, the company announced that as part of its 2025-2030 business plan, it intends to contribute £13 million a year to maintain its social tariffs schemes and provide capacity to increase the number of customers it supports to 190,000.
Welsh Water’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Davis said:
“While we are set to reduce our bills, we know that customers are still finding things difficult as many continue to contact us to ask for the help that is available. We still have capacity to help thousands more – and this is partly because our not for shareholder business model means we don’t pay dividends to shareholders and so are able to use this money to help those who genuinely struggle to pay.
“As ever, our advice to anyone worried about their bill is to get in contact with us straight away. We have a trained and friendly team on hand who after asking just a few questions will be able to match you to the help that best meets your needs”.
One of the organisations that works with Welsh Water to help customers access its Cymuned fund is Warm Wales.
Joanna Seymour Director of Partnerships and Development at Warm Wales said:
“Warm Wales has worked closely with Welsh Water supporting residents. With the introduction of the Cymuned Scheme we have been able to support more residents who would not be able to be signed up to Help U for example.
“This has been a big help for many who feel that there is a lack of support for them. I would encourage anyone who is finding it hard to manage to make payment for your bills to reach out.”
John Vinson, Head of Company Engagement for the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said:
“Around one in six households in Wales say they struggle to pay their water bill so it’s vital customers don’t miss out on the broad range of support that Welsh Water is able to offer.”
“Schemes like HelpU and Cymuned can have a life-changing impact for some crisis-hit households but experience tells us that many customers either don’t know help exists or are too afraid to ask. We’d urge anyone who is struggling to stay afloat to get in touch with the company and allow them to ease some of the burden.”