As water companies issue customers’ water bills for next year, showing an average increase of 1.7%, or about £7, Ofwat has called on water companies to make providing support for customers struggling to pay a top priority.
While overall water bills are a real-term cut, as they are below inflation, there is variation across England and Wales and some customers’ bills will reduce by 6% while others will increase by 10%.
Ofwat has challenged companies to do more to help customers and in particular to help those struggling to afford bills.
David Black, Ofwat interim Chief Executive, said: “Many households are worried about their bills, and we expect water companies to play their part in supporting customers. Our research shows that only 15% of customers know about the financial help available to them, and just 3% are actually getting financial support from their water company.
“Those who are struggling need to know that there is help available. Offering a helping hand to those who need it must be a top priority for water companies and we want to see them being proactive, creative and supportive for their customers. If customers are worried, they should talk to their water company, affordability charities, or CCW.
“But this isn’t just about the bills. Companies need to demonstrate they are providing great value with excellent service to customers while at the same time caring for our environment, responding to the real concern about their impact on our rivers. Customers are looking for more from their water company and they should rise to meet those expectations.”