We want water customers to be able to have information that would help them pay the lowest possible bill and get the best service. We have asked all companies to review the information they provide to their customers whether this is on water bills, or on websites or through company helplines.
In the main, we regulate the prices customers pay and the standards of service. Although we are happy to explain how we regulate, we do not speak to a lot of customers directly. Instead, we work with other organisations both in government or other organisations who would have more contact with water customers . We would usually deal with the national organisations but you may find it useful to contact the local branch of for example, CCWater, Citizens Advice, representative groups, debt charities.
I have provided a list here of some selected helplines.
Water customers can get information on their rights as a water customer from CCWater. You can also get more information from their Website www.ccwater.org.uk. Or telephone them on 0121 345 1000.
Citizens Advice – a consumer helpline on 0844 111 444 and website www.adviceguide.org.uk which can let you know where the local offices are located.
Money Advice Service – advice on budgeting 0300 500 5000 – www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
Age UK representing older people – 0800 169 6565 of www.ageuk.org.uk
Family Action – help for disadvantaged families www.family-action.org.uk
Gingerbread – represents single parents – 0808 802 0925 – www.gingerbread.org.uk
StepChange – free advice on reducing debts – 0800 138 1111 – www.stepchange.org.uk
You asked for some specific information. You can check with your local water supplier for more detail on what the individual company provides.
Regulations require all water customers to offer the WaterSure scheme or equivalent. This is for metered customers, who receive a means-tested benefit and either have a family of 3 children or more or someone in the family who has a medical condition that means they need to use more water. The benefit of the scheme is that it sets a maximum figure for your water bill (based on the average for the area) so that if you need to use more water, you are protected from high bills. All companies will have application forms and be able to explain whether you are able to benefit from this scheme.
Social tariffs – we encourage companies to set up their own schemes that provide help to other customers on a low income. These are lower bills. In practice, if bills are more affordable, fewer customers get into debt.
Charitable Trusts – some companies offer customers the opportunity to apply for grants to help with water bills. This can help a customer in debt get straight with their water bills and budget more effectively going forward.
Debt Matching schemes – instead of grants – other companies have other schemes that agree to match the payments a customer makes to help them get out of debt more quickly.
More information is available from our website – http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/consumerissues
Consumer Policy Team
Tel: 0121 644 7604
Address: Centre City Tower, 7 Hill Street, Birmingham, B5 4UA