What to say to your provider if you’re struggling with payments
- It’s important to get in touch with your supplier to explain your financial situation
- You can contact your water company in numerous ways
- The most practical way is to call your water company to explain how much money you can pay based on your current financial situation, along with how much water you’re using
- Most water companies have an app and website which will detail your usage
- You can use your account to gauge how much money you’re spending
- A water meter calculator can also be used to determine how much water you should be using and how much you should be spending per month – if you have more bedrooms than people it’s worth considering using one!
- Ask about your water company’s Code of Practice – this will detail how they can support you
- All water companies should have a Code of Practice, which is used for helping customers who are in debt
- Your company is likely to be supportive of your situation, assuming you can continue to make payments
- Try to work out a payment solution which suits both of you – this can include spreading the cost of your payments over 12 months, rather than one lump sum, or less frequent payments
- If you continue to make payments, it could help you further down the line as you’ve shown good faith by attempting to clear your debts
- See if you’re eligible for the Priority Services Register
There may be factors which mean that you need extra help from your water company. You can speak to your water provider about joining the Priority Services Register and getting free, practical support if you:
- are going through life changes
- need to use vital medical equipment
- are an expectant mother or have a baby under 12 months old
- are deaf, hard of hearing or have a sight or speech impairment
- have restricted mobility or a disability
- have a serious or long-term illness
Use a water bill calculator to see if you can save with a meter
Most customers who switch to a meter save £150 each year, and the installation is completely free.
The Consumer Council for water’s calculator will tell you if you can save with a meter. It’ll ask questions about your water use and tell you your estimated costs if you have a meter.
Get help paying your bills using your benefits
You can have some of your water bill paid directly out of your benefits payments if you’re having difficulties. This is called ‘third party deductions’ and sometimes Fuel Direct.
The benefits that can be used are:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
Check out the Water Sure Scheme
To apply for the scheme, you must be receiving benefits and need to use lots 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 be waiting to have one installed.
Have you looked into discounted tariffs?
Anglian Water affordable payment plans
Anglian Water can create a payment plan that suits you. For example, you can decide to spread out your payments as weekly, fortnightly or monthly instalments.
If you receive certain benefits, Anglian Water can take payments for your water bills directly from those payments, as part of the Water Direct initiative.
Severn Trent Water
Big Difference Scheme
The Big Difference Scheme can offer a reduction to any Severn Trent customer with a household income below £16,480
Eligibility for WaterSure
The WaterSure scheme by Severn Trent runs for 12 months.
To get help through WaterSure, you must have a water meter and receive certain benefits. You must also have either three or more children under 19 living with you or a medical condition requiring the extra use of water
If you live in a low-income household, ThamesWater may be able to discount your bill through WaterHelp.
If you qualify, they currently offer a 50% discount on your whole bill. This amount may change in the future. Households earning below £16,480, or below £20,111 in London boroughs are considered be on a low income by ThamesWater. In order to qualify, they must verify your income.
If you’re on a water meter but finding it hard to save water because you have a large family or a medical condition, ThamesWater may be able to cap your bills through WaterSure.
For this year (2023/24), for example, they would cap your bills at £423. If you already use less, you’ll keep paying less.
If you’re claiming Income Support, Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit, Jobcentre Plus may consider paying Southern Water directly out of your benefits.
If you have at least £50 worth of arrears, Jobcentre Plus will take a fixed amount from your benefits to cover what you owe in arrears and your current charges.
NewStart can help you pay off your water bill debt.
You might qualify for NewStart if you currently owe Southern Water money and haven’t made a payment for a while.
Southern Water’s Essentials Tariff is designed to help customers who are struggling to pay their water services charges. It provides a discount of at least 20% on future bills. If you receive your water and waste water services from Southern Water, you’ll qualify for the Essentials tariff. Find out more here.
Quick fixes to help you save in the long run
Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances – an energy-efficient washer can save 6,000 gallons of water per year.
- Fix dripping taps – a dripping tap can waste the equivalent of half a bath a week
- Free gadgets – we all love a freebie…if you contact your water supplier, you may be able to claim free gadgets that can help you monitor your usage. This can range from how long you spend in the shower, shower head efficiency and water efficiency in general.
- Discounted gadgets – Participating water companies are offering free and discounted water-saving gadgets.
What happens to water bills after someone has passed away?
It’s important to contact the supplier as soon as you can. Most providers will have an online form you can complete, which will ask for contact details, details of the person who has passed away, whether water will continue to be used at the property and any details of the executor of the estate.
You can also give them a call if you find this easier. If there’s a joint occupier, they will be responsible for the ongoing bill and the name on the bill should be changed by the water provider.
If there are any arrears, the joint-named person will become liable for these. Water arrears are a non-priority debt, and the provider can’t disconnect if there is someone still residing at the address.
If the water bill was in the deceased person’s sole name, any arrears should be paid by the estate. If there isn’t enough money to do this, the money will no longer be owed.
Dealing with finances whilst also coping with a loss can be overwhelming, and along with the National Bereavement Service, we’re here to help you.
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