3rd March 2011
If you are having trouble paying your water bills, it is important to address the problem.
Here is a quick IncomeMAX guide to the help available.
Many households can benefit from having a water meter, as you will only be billed for the water that you use.
But some households with meters face hardship because they need to use large amounts of water for essential purposes. To help support customers in this situation, there is a Water Sure scheme available.
Customers with a water meter who are accepted onto the Water Sure scheme have their new charges capped at the same amount as the average household bill.
To be eligible for Water Sure, you or a member of your household must receive one of the following benefits or tax credits:
And in addition either:
Receive child benefit for three or more dependent children
Note that certain medical conditions can only be accepted if the condition uses significant amounts of water and is supported by a signed certificate issued by a doctor or registered practitioner.
If you've got unpaid bills from your water supplier, and you receive:
then you can ask your benefits office to pay the supplier directly out of your benefit. This system is called Water Direct. It covers your current fuel use and also pays off a certain amount of your unpaid bill each week. Contact your water supplier to apply.
Some water companies have set up trust funds that may be able to help you pay your fuel bills if you are in financial difficulties. Contact your water supplier to find out if they run a scheme and how to apply.
Many water companies provide other special schemes and tariffs to help you with your bills.
Southern Water for example have a New Start Scheme, where if the customer is able to start paying what is owed for the current year by regular instalments, Southern Water will clear the same amount from the arrears.
Ofwat, the regulator for the water industry is currently working with water suppliers on possible tariff options for vulnerable customers.
Always contact your water supplier to find out the various options available to you.
If you need further advice, contact your local advice service or CAB.
The issues affecting real people
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