Whilst water bills are a comparatively small part of total household costs, Essex & Suffolk Water is determined to do everything it can to help its customers.
Water poverty is where customers spend more than 3% of their income on their water bill, after housing costs, and the company is determined to do everything it can to reduce the worry when it comes to paying bills.
A report released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on UK Poverty, revealed that 14.3 million people are living in poverty and the most common types of debt for those with low incomes are water bills and Council Tax. These are followed by being behind with rent and other utility bills.
The company, which provides drinking water services to 1.8 million people across Essex, Suffolk and parts of East London, is committing to eradicate all water poverty by 2030 but expect to make quick progress, with two thirds of these customers out of water poverty by 2025.
Customer Director for Essex & Suffolk Water, Claire Sharp said: "Water services should be affordable for all of our customers whatever their circumstances and we′re committed to making this happen.
"Making sure bills are affordable for all of our customers is our industry leading aspiration and our ambitious aim to eradicate water poverty by 2030 is a powerful example of this, particularly given the levels of unemployment, welfare benefits receipt and income deprivation that we have in our regions.
"We understand that a household′s finances can go up and down and that some of our customers will face difficulties according to their personal circumstances and at different stages of their life.
"By making sure that our services are fully inclusive for all of our customers - whatever their circumstances we can leave a lasting legacy through protecting and enhancing our environment and communities."
There are a variety of services available to help customers in need of a little extra support. Recognising that given the relatively low cost of water bills customers in water poverty are likely to face greater financial challenges, the company works with StepChange Debt Charity to offer all-round support - not just lifting them out of water poverty but also finding solutions to overcome the challenges of debt.
There are multiple tariffs available for customers who are struggling to pay their bills. If your household income is less than £16,105 and your water bill is more than 3% of your household income after rent or mortgage payments, then you may be eligible for a reduction on your water bill by up to 50%.
Essex & Suffolk Water may be able to help you if someone in your household receives certain benefits or tax credits. If you have a medical condition that involves high water use or have three or more children under the age of 19 you may qualify for the WaterSure scheme which will cap the amount of your annual water bill.
The water company provide a wide range of free Priority Services to suit customers′ needs free of charge, this includes things like:
• Bills and literature in Braille, large print, audio and Easyread
• An alternative supply of water if there is an extended unplanned interruption and they have a certain medical condition or mobility challenges
• A password scheme to protect against anyone trying to get into their house pretending to be from Essex & Suffolk Water or the ‘water board′
• A free meter reading service for those who are unable to read your meter themselves
• Arrange for a customer′s bill to be sent to a relative or friend that they trust and who has agreed to help.
If you think you would benefit from a Social Tariff, WaterSure or Priority Services, or know of a family member, friend or neighbour who′s life would be made that little bit easier with some support, visit https://www.eswater.co.uk/your-home/your-account/tariffs-and-charges.aspx today or chat to the team on Twitter - @eswater_care.