How to lower your water bill by £100s if you're on Universal Credit or benefits

FAMILIES on Universal Credit or other benefits could reduce their water bill by hundreds of pounds on average if they're struggling.

You may be eligible for help through the WaterSure scheme, which puts a cap on bills for low income customers regardless of how much water they’re using. 

The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) estimates that bills are reduced by £270 on average through the scheme.

But the amount you could save does vary in reality from as little as £10 to as much as £400 a year.

It comes as the average price of water bills looks set to reduce from £410 to £408, a saving of £2, although there are variations between suppliers.

What is the WaterSure scheme?

The WaterSure scheme allows low-income and struggling households to have their bill capped without impacting how much water they use.

Bills are typically capped at the average amount for your supplier, so the amount you could save will vary.

The idea of WaterSure is it stops customers cutting back on how much water they use because they are worried about how they will pay their bill.

Water bills vary depending on where you live, and unlike other household bills, you can't switch your supplier.

How to cut back on your water useage AND save money

THERE are simple ways to cut back your water use without impacting your every day life.

You could also see your bills reduced as a result.

Here are some simple tricks:

  • Remember to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth
  • Collect rainwater in a water butt to water your garden, saving tap water
  • Cut a minute off your shower time to save an extra eight litres
  • Run your bath an inch shorter than usual you can save on average five litres
  • If you have a dishwasher or washing machine, try the eco setting to cut back on water use
  • Fill the kettle with only what is needed – this will also save you money on your energy bill

Who is eligible for WaterSure?

To qualify for the scheme you need to already have a water meter installed, and you'll have to prove you need to use a lot of water.

So you need to have three or more children under the age of 19 living in the house, and receive child benefit for them.

Or someone living in the house must have a medical condition that means you need lots of water, such as weeping skin diseases like psoriasis, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

You'll also need to receive one of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Some water suppliers also offer WaterSure if you're on Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments.

You won't qualify if you use a garden sprinkler system or have a pool.

How do I apply for WaterSure?

If you live in England, you need to apply for the scheme directly from your water supplier.

The name of your provider will be printed on your bills, but you can also check by entering your postcode on the Water UK's website.

In Wales, you need to contact WaterSure Wales.

What other help is there?

If you're struggling to pay your water bill, you should contact your supplier as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Don't ignore your bill, as this will only make things worse.

Here are some other methods of help that could be available to you if you're struggling or claim benefits.

Social tariffs: Lots of water suppliers have special rates, known as social tariffs, to help families on low-income.

How much you could save depends on your supplier, and the help provided also varies between companies.

For example, some companies will offer a range of reductions depending on your specific circumstances, while other providers offer a flat rate reduction.

Some suppliers will carry out individual financial assessments to work out what support you can get, while others offer reduced rates for households whose income is below a certain specified level.

You can see what your water company offers and the rules for applying on the CCW website.

Adjusted payment plans: It might be worth asking your water company if they can adjust your payment plan if your income has suddenly dropped.

It could mean you'll pay less for a set period of time until you get your finances in order again.

Again, the help on offer varies between companies and they don't have to change your payments.

Search for free grants: Low-income families may be eligible for a charitable fund to help pay for their water bill.

Most grants do not have to be paid back, but check the terms and conditions of what you're being offered carefully.

The help available to you will largely depend on your personal circumstances, background and needs.

Use the Turn2us grants search tool to look for grants by entering "water" as a keyword.

Payment holidays: If you can't pay your bill at all, you may want to consider getting a payment holiday.

It means you don't need to pay the bill now, but you'll still be liable to pay it in future so keep in mind your balance will grow over time.

How long your payment break will last depends on your provider and individual circumstances.

Contact your supplier to discuss your options.

Payment matching: If you're already in arrears, ask your supplier if they offer a payment matching scheme.

These schemes can reduce debt if customers stick to a payment plan by the company matching what you can afford to pay.

For example, both Thames Water and United Utilities will match any money you pay towards your water debt, pound for pound.

You'll usually need to pay your current water bill, as well as making an affordable payment towards your debt each month.

As part of our Fix Your Finances series, we explain how to save £2,530 in a day by cutting bills and giving your bills a makeover.

If you're looking for others ways to cut costs see how a single-mum-paid-off-16k-debt in two-years with easy-tips to save money.

Fancy having more disposable income? then read these thrifty tips on how to save-thousands in your household-budget.

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