Consumer watchdog warns that 114,000 households in Wales face ‘water poverty’
A consumer watchdog says that 114,000 households in Wales are struggling to pay water bills, resulting in some rationing water or cutting back on essentials.
The Customer Council for Water (CCW) say that current schemes to support those hardest hit are confusing, vary widely between companies and fail to provide the financial help that’s needed.
Andy White, a policy spokesperson for CCW, raises the issue in an article for the IWA, saying: “At present, it is estimated that about 114,000 households live in water poverty in Wales – spending more than five percent of their income after housing costs on water bills.
“Each of these households would need an average extra £138 bill reduction each year to lift them out of this situation. But the current social tariff schemes run by the country’s two main water companies only provide sufficient support to help 62,500 of these customers out of water poverty.”
The group wants the Welsh and UK Governments to create a single social tariff that would ensure that no household has to spend more than 5% of its income, after housing costs, on water bills.
They also want the water companies to improve their levels of support, including the possibility of 100% discounts for those going through the Universal Credit application process.
“We now need the Welsh and UK governments to support legislative changes that would pave the way for a single social tariff. In the meantime we want water companies to work with us to implement our other recommendations,” Andy White states.
Water is a complex legislative area of devolution with company services having developed around river catchment areas rather than administrative borders.
Reforming water company borders to align them with the national border was one of the recommendations made in 2014 by the Commission on Devolution in Wales, better known as the Silk Commission.