Help at the turn of a tap with a water meter

Paul Lewis on why a water meter could keep your bills down

Man holding a glass of water

Will you find it difficult to pay your water bill when it’s due in April? Well, you might be able to get some help.

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By and large, water bills in England or Wales will be slightly lower this year. The average for piping water to you and taking it away again is now £408 – £2 less than last year. Your actual bill will vary with the value of your home, and what region it is in. But bills also differ between providers: on average Hafren Dyfrdwy charges £324 annually, while South West Water bills £483. Likewise the change from last year could be as much as -8% (with Wessex) or +5% (again with Hafren Dyfrdwy).

In Scotland, the bill to Scottish Water is paid with council tax, and that element will rise by 2.5% in April, but how much you’ll pay depends on what band your home is in. In Northern Ireland, though, there are no domestic water bills.

Around a million low-income households had help with those bills last year through what are known as “social tariffs”. Most water companies offer them, but each has their own rules about who gets help and the size of the discount. South West Water looks at your income and offers between 15% and 50% off your bill. While Cambridge Water offers up to 60% off for those on certain benefits. See what’s offered
in your area at ccwater.org.uk (search “help with my bill”).  In Scotland, aid is given through the council tax reduction scheme or, for those with a metered supply, directly by Scottish Water.

Furthermore, if you live alone or as a couple in England and Wales, a water meter can keep your bills down. The general rule of thumb is: if there are more bedrooms in your home than people, a meter could cut your bill. A calculator at ccwater.org.uk will do the sums more accurately (search “water meter”). Crucially, meters are free – though having them fitted in Scotland can be pricey. And if you apply for one but your home is unsuitable, you can ask for an “assessed charge bill”, which may mean you get a reduction anyway.

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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4