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Wiser Money Project: Getting help with water bills


Are you paying too much for water? Are you struggling to pay your current bill? Could you be paying less?

Help is available.calculator_heritageyellowletter_box_heritageblue

Most water companies have hardship schemes or other ways to help customers who contact them about water bill problems.

There are various schemes in place:

  1. WaterSure,
  2. WaterSure Plus
  3. Other Customer assistance schemes

 

What is WaterSure?  

This is a Government regulated tariff aimed at assisting vulnerable customers with their water bills. It is offered by all water companies.

The WaterSure scheme works by capping the bills of qualifying customers. WaterSure-600x271

It is available for all our household customers who have a water meter and meet certain criteria.

Customers who qualify will have their annual bill capped at £374 so they won’t have to pay more than this amount , regardless of how much water they have to use.  This amount is made up of £198 for water and £176 for wastewater services.

If your water use during the year does not go above £374 in charges, you will only be charged for the lower amount of what you’ve used.

Who qualifies for Watersure?

You have to satisfy one of the following:

  • Firstly, you have to have a water meter, or have applied for one and are waiting for it to be installed; or be paying on assessed charge because it is not possible to fit a water meter at your property;
  • Secondly, you or someone in your household needs to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit since April 2015: 
  1. Child Tax Credit (except families getting the ‘family element’ only)
  2. Housing Benefit
  3. Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  4. Income Support
  5. Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  6. Pension Credit
  7. Working Tax Credit
  8. Universal Credit

Additionally you also have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • You or someone in your household has a medical condition which requires the use of significant additional water; or
  • you or someone in your household receives Child Benefit for 3 or more children under 19.

 

What is WaterSure Plus?  

This is a tariff to help eligible residential customers on low income with their water bills. It is offered by all water companies.64351021

Who is eligible for Watersure Plus?

If your bill costs at least 3% of your net household income then you are eligible for WaterSure Plus.  If you are eligible the WaterSure Plus tariff can help to reduce your bill by half!

If your bill is less than 3%, you can qualify for the low tariff by either:

  • You or someone in your household needs to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit since April 2015: 
  • Child Tax Credit (except families getting the ‘family element’ only)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

OR,

  • You have a gross household income of £16, 105 or less, AND someone living in your property is:
    • 62 years of age or older; or
    • has parental responsibility of a child aged 5 years or younger, or
    • is registered disabled.

 

You can apply for the WaterSure Plus tariff over the phone to your supplier, or Thames Water (0800 980 8800 thameswater.co.uk/watersureplus ) 

 

If your application is successful, your account will be moved to the WaterSure Plus tariff from the date your application was received.

You can arrange to pay your bills regularly using direct debits, payment cards, or water direct (where the DWP sends your regular payment directly from your benefits).

 

 

IF YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR WATER SURE OR WATERSURE PLUS

If you’re struggling to pay your water bills and you don’t qualify for Watersure, there are other schemes which may be able to help. Many water companies run hardship schemes or fund independent charitable trusts which can help you pay off your bills if you’re in debt.

For further help or more information how to apply please contact Citizens Advice Westminster :

By Phone: 08444 771 611 (click here for opening hours)

On the internet: www.westminsteradvice.org.uk

Why not join us for a Q&A session on Friday 24th June 2016, 10am – 12.30pm at 21a Conduit Place, London W2 1HS.  Our money advice specialist will be available to answer your questions about your water bills.  

Other useful information:

  • OFWAT guidelines for companies on Dealing with household customers in debt at: www.oftwat.gov.uk
  • http://www.thameswater.co.uk/your-account/9037.htm
  • For WaterSure application forms or help contact Thames water on 0800 009 3652: lines are open from 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday and closed weekends and Bank Holidays
  • To find out which water company supplies your area, go to the Consumer Council for Water’s website at: www.ccwater.org.uk
  • For more help with water issues, go to the Consumer Council for Water’s website at: www.ccwater.org.uk
  • To find out if you’re better off with a water meter, go to the uSwitch website at: www.uswitch.com/water

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