Citizens Advice Column - August/September 22
Water Bills, Saving Water And Protecting The Vulnerable From Cuts In Supply: Top Tips
As the cost-of-living crisis continues, the issue of how to save energy, save money on energy bills and protect the vulnerable from cuts in supply has dominated discussions; most notably in the, now seemingly annual, context of choices around ‘heat or eat’.
What is often underestimated is the size of accumulating household water debts and what can be done to reduce them, to reduce the wasting of water and to protect those vulnerable to cuts in water supply. Below are some concrete measures you can take to help you save water and save money on water bills.
NB. Domestic water services, across Coventry & Warwickshire, are provided by Severn Trent Water Limited (STW). This is a ‘regional monopoly’ in that STW are the sole water company operating in this area. The measures below relate mainly to their services.
- Big Difference Scheme
The Big Difference Scheme (BDS) is an initiative set up by STW to help those on low incomes get a discount on their water bills. If you are eligible you could get up to 90% off the average Severn Trent bill. But this reduction only lasts for 12 months. Go to www.stwater.co.uk/my-account/help-when-you-need-it/help-with-paying-your-bill/big-difference-scheme/ for more information and to apply.
Depending on your circumstances you might be able to get help with your water bills through the ‘WaterSure Scheme’. Through this scheme bills are capped at STW’s average yearly charge. Go to www.stwater.co.uk/my-account/help-when-you-need-it/help-with-paying-your-bill/watersure-scheme/ for more information.
- Severn Trent Trust Fund
If you have STW arrears outstanding that you cannot afford to pay back, you might be able to apply for help from the Severn Trent Trust Fund (STTF). The STTF is an independent grant making trust funded mainly by STW. For more information on eligibility and how to apply go to www.sttf.org.uk/.
- Water Meters
Some customers find that their bills are cheaper after switching to a water meter. To find out more call STW on 0345 7500 500 or go to www.stwater.co.uk/my-account/my-water-meter/apply-for-a-water-meter/.
- Alternative Payment Methods
There are a number of ways you can pay your water bills, from direct debit to in-person at your bank or Post Office. Visit www.stwater.co.uk/my-account/help-when-you-need-it/help-with-paying-your-bill/payment-options/ for more information.
- Water Direct
If you owe at least £50 on your Severn Trent account, and are in receipt of means-tested benefits, you may be able to have water payments deducted direct from your benefits via the Water Direct scheme. Go to www.stwater.co.uk/my-account/help-when-you-need-it/help-with-paying-your-bill/water-direct/ for more information.
- Tips to Save Water
STW offer free water saving products. Go to www.stwater.co.uk/wonderful-on-tap/save-water/you-can-make-a-difference/ to order them and to find out more about how to save water. Other water saving tips can be found at www.water.org.uk/news-item/public-encouraged-to-make-every-drop-count-this-summer-as-national-water-saving-campaign-is-launched/.
- Protecting the Vulnerable via the ‘Priority Service Register’
Severn Trent's Priority Service Register is used to support customers with special requirements to give them a better, more personalised service and ensure they are protected from scheduled and unscheduled interruptions in their supply. For more information go to www.stwater.co.uk/get-in-touch/join-our-priority-services-register/.
The best way to address any water issues you have is to contact Severn Trent Water direct on 03456 043 772 or visit www.stwater.co.uk/my-account/help-when-you-need-it/help-with-paying-your-bill/what-happens-if-you-do-not-pay-your-bill/.
However, for an alternative independent perspective on all of the above contact your local Citizens Advice.
For more general information on what to do if you can’t make your water payments, or for any other issues regarding water efficiency, go to the Citizens Advice website at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/water/water-supply/problems-with-paying-your-water-bill/.
Our thanks to Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) for submitting this article to us. For more information, contact your local CA offices or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.