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Water schemes

If you are struggling to pay water bills, find out about the various schemes and grants that may be available to help towards the cost of water.

1. Water Sure (England) and Water Sure 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 the Water Sure scheme.

People who meet the criteria for help under these initiatives 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.

Who is eligible for Water Sure?

To qualify for help, you have to live in England or Wales and be getting at least one of the following benefits:

(except families getting the family element only) 

In addition, you have to be:

entitled to receive Child Benefit for three or more children under the age of nineteen who live with you, or
diagnosed as having, or have someone living with you who has one of the following medical conditions:

  • Desquamation (flaky skin disease)

  • Incontinence

  • Abdominal stoma

  • Eczema, psoriasis or varicose ulceration (weeping skin disease)

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Ulcerative colitis

  • Renal failure requiring dialysis at home (unless the health authority contributes to the cost of water consumed in the dialysis process)

  • Any other medical condition that requires the use of significant additional water and can be supported with a doctor’s certificate.

You do not qualify for the scheme if you:

  • Water your garden with a non-hand-held appliance, such as a sprinkler or domestic irrigation system

  • Have an auto-fill swimming pool or pond with a capacity of over 10,000 litres.

How do I apply?

You need to contact your local water company for further information and details of the application process.

If you don’t know the details of your local water company, the Consumer Council for Water, which represents the interests of water consumers across England and Wales, has a list of water companies on its website.

Once accepted for either scheme, you qualify until your circumstances change and you no longer require help. However, you will have to reapply or confirm that you remain eligible every 12 months. Your water company should remind you to do this.

It is worth contacting your local water company, even if you think you might not be eligible for the WaterSure Scheme or Welsh Water Assist, as they may be able to offer you a more flexible payment option or other help.

2. Water companies (England and Wales)

Social tariffs (England and Wales)

Many water companies also have now introduced social tariffs which can offer reduced bills to customers who would otherwise struggle to pay. Schemes can differ in terms of who is eligible for help and what assistance is provided.

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

Other help

Many water companies offer schemes and/or have charitable trusts to help household customers with genuine reasons for being in debt or struggling to pay their water bills. 
These include:

You would need to contact your water company to find out what it offers. See country specific information below.

England and Wales

The Consumer Council for Water website has details of water companies

Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales, has information on its website about Customer assistance for vulnerable water consumers in England and Wales

Water UK has information on affordability and water

Citizens Advice water supply information (England) and Citizens Advice water supply information (Wales)

3. Water companies (Scotland)

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

Water Charges Reduction Scheme

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 (see contact details at the end of this page).

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.

All other charges

As well as providing water and waste water services to household properties, Scottish Water can also provide other non-licensed services on request

Scottish Water invoice and collect all other secondary charges direct.
Information on these other charges can be found on the Scottish Water website.

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.

Contact details for Scottish Water

Email: customer.services@scottishwater.co.uk
Twitter: @scottish_water
Helpline: 0800 0778778 (open 24 hours a day)
Address: Scottish Water, PO Box 8855, Edinburgh, EH10 6YQ
Scottish Water website

See also the Citizens Advice Adviceguide website information on Water and sewerage (Scotland)
 

4. Water companies (Northern Ireland)

NI Water Customer Care Register

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.


See the NI Water Customer Care Register for more information

Contact details for NI Water

Email: waterline@niwater.com
Waterline: 03457 440088
Address: Northern Ireland Water, PO Box 1026, Belfast BT19DJ
Northern Ireland Water website

See also the NI Direct website information on water and sewerage




 

5. Charitable funds

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help from a charitable fund (both those relating specifically to water companies and others such as occupational charities) depending on your personal circumstances, background and needs.

You can use the Turn2us Grants Search to look for any that may be able to help you. To find them, once you have done the search on the first page of the tool, do a keyword search on 'water'. You can also find out more by contacting your water supplier directly.

Acknowledgement

Turn2us would like to thank the Consumer Council for Water (link opens in a new window) for their help in reviewing this information page.

Last updated: December 2018