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Water bills: what help is available?

  • 26/08/2016
  • Author:bridgetmccall

This article is over a year old

Are you struggling to pay your water bills? Find out what help may be available to you through social tariff schemes and charitable grants.

Pouring water from a kettle into a cup of tea

Are you on a low income and struggling to pay your water bills? Depending on your circumstances, help may be available to you through social tariffs and grants from charitable funds.

What is available depends on which part of the country you live in and which company supplies your water.

England and Wales

If you live in England or Wales, are on certain benefits, have a water meter and use a lot of water because you either have a medical condition or three or more children aged under 19 for whom you claim Child Benefit, you may be able to get help from Water Sure schemes offered by your water company.

People who meet the criteria for help can have their water bill capped at the amount of the average household water bill for their water company (in some cases less). For some customers, being accepted for the Water Sure scheme can more than halve the amount that they have to pay.

Other social tariff schemes may also available from your water company.

The Consumer Council for Water website includes details of all the schemes which are currently available and how to apply in England and Wales.

The Turn2us Grants Search lists all of the social tariff schemes offered by water companies in England and Wales.

The quickest way to find these is to go to the filter for 'Other issues' (once you have done your initial search on postcode, age and gender) and click 'Water bills', then find any schemes that your water company offers.


Domestic households in Scotland are all provided with water by Scottish Water unless there is a separate private source like a spring or a borehole.

Houses with no water meter (unmetered charges)

If your home doesn’t have a water meter, and you are not on a private water supply, then your local council will bill and collect your water charge and, if it applies, your waste water charge. Your local council bills and collects these charges on Scottish Water’s behalf and you can find details of how to pay on your Council Tax bill.

Any questions regarding your bill, including payment options and any applicable discounts or exemptions, should be directed in the first instance to your local Council. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has a local council finder on its website

Some Council Tax exemptions and discounts will continue to apply to these charges. Under the permanent Water Charges Reduction Scheme, introduced by the Scottish Government on 1st April 2006, households which have two or more adults and which receive Council Tax Reductions (which replaced Council Tax Benefit from April 2013) but don’t already receive status discounts, will automatically get a discount of up to 25% on these charges. Whether you receive Council Tax Reductions or not, you must still pay the water charges as set out on your Council Tax bill.

If your property has been altered to meet the needs of a disabled person, you may be entitled to a Disabled Banding Reduction on the charges you pay for your property.

Please contact your local council for further information. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has a local council finder on its website

Houses with a water meter

Householders may opt to have a water meter installed and their charges billed on a measured basis. For information on this, please contact the Scottish Water Customer Helpline.

Scottish Water will invoice and collect water and waste water charges direct from homeowners whose homes have a water meter. For properties with water meters, Scottish Water sends invoices direct on a quarterly basis.

You can arrange a Scottish Water Payment Plan based on your average annual invoice. This will set up agreed instalments to be paid on specific dates every quarter.

Customers invoiced directly by Scottish Water

For customers invoiced directly by Scottish Water, there are various payment options available. To discuss payment options or if you have problems paying, please contact the Scottish Water Customer Helpline (contact details below) as soon as possible.

Northern Ireland

NI Water supplies water to homes in Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland and you are an older person; have a serious medical condition or disability or need extra help for any other reason, extra free services may be available to you or anyone in your household. You need to join the NI Water Customer Care Register.

Charitable funds (Water company schemes and others) (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help from a charitable fund (both those relating specifically to your water company and others which give help based on eligibility criteria such as occupations, disabilities, religion etc) depending on your personal circumstances, background and needs.

Water company schemes include:

You can use the Turn2us Grants Search to look for any that may be able to help you.

Turn2us partnership with CC Water

Turn2us has partnered with the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) to provide Benefits Calculator and Grants Search tools on the CC Water website to help struggling water customers in England and Wales identify ways to bolster their income.

The partnership forms part of a wider effort by the independent water watchdog to ensure the one in eight water customers who say their water bill is not affordable receive the help they need before sinking into debt.

If you are from a water company that would be interested in developing a similar partnership, please see our Commercial Relationships page.

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