Households could cut their water bill by up to 90% with new support fund – are you eligible?
STRUGGLING households could wipe up to 90% off an essential household bill thanks to a new support fund.
Low-income families have been hit hard by rising bills, including up to £36 a year for water costs in a blow to struggling households.
Water Bills have increased by 1.7% or £7 a year on average, WaterUK said in February.
But some parts of the UK have seen above inflation rises, including Essex and Suffolk, where the average bill went up from £223 to £246 a year.
Earlier this year, Ofwat, the water regulator, called on firms to provide support for customers struggling to pay their bills amidst the cost-of-living crisis.
And today, Severn Trent has launched a support package to cut water bills by up to 90% for a further 100,000 cash-strapped customers as part of The Big Difference Scheme.
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The Coventry-headquartered water firm previously unveiled a £30million fund to help those on low incomes, adding to its existing scheme supporting 215,000 customers in need.
But it also said research suggests another 100,000 customers in its area are set to fall into so-called water poverty with finances stretched by soaring energy bills and living costs.
A study carried out by management consultants CEPA suggests 6.5% of households – around 1.5 million – are already in water poverty, meaning they spend more than 5% of their total income after housing costs on water bills.
The cost crunch is expected to see more people struggle to pay their bills, with inflation predicted to hit over 10% later this year.
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Liv Garfield, Severn Trent chief executive, said: "As cost-of-living pressures continue to rise, we're acting now to support people struggling to pay their bills.
"Our customers have the second-lowest bill in the UK, at around £1 per day, but we know that for some, paying this remains a challenge."
"We don't want anybody in our region feeling nervous about their water bill arriving," she added.
The Big Difference Scheme can offer a reduction of water bills to any Severn Trent customer with a household income below £16,480.
You can apply to the scheme here.
Severn Water will make an assessment to determine how big a reduction you as a customer will be able to get.
The scheme runs for 12 months at a time and households will have to apply again at the end of each year-long period.
Severn Water is the UK's second-biggest water firm, serving 4.8 million homes and businesses in England and Wales, stretching from mid-Wales to Rutland and from north and mid-Wales south to the Bristol Channel and east to the Humber.
David Black, chief executive of regulator Ofwat, said: "No-one should have to choose between paying for water and paying for food."
He called on other firms in the sector to 'do more to respond to the cost-of-living worries'.
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Details of Severn Trent's fund were announced alongside its full-year results showing underlying pre-tax profits rising 7.5% to £508 million.
But the firm also laid bare the increase in its own costs from soaring inflation, revealing an extra £50 million in energy bills.
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