HOUSEHOLDS will see the largest hike in their annual water bills in nearly 20 years when they rise to an average of £448 this spring.
Water UK said the 7.5% increase would see customers pay around £1.23 per day on average from April.
This is an increase of 8p per day or an average of £31 more than last year’s charges.
Experts are warning that the rise could prove the tipping point for the one in five customers already struggling to pay.
But Water UK argued that water bills remained lower in real terms than they were a decade ago.
The industry body said this year’s increase reflected higher energy costs, with water firms using around 2% of the nation’s electricity.
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Firms said they were aware of the impact of price rises on lower income and vulnerable customers and had recently increased the level of support they offered by more than £200 million.
Water UK director of policy Stuart Colville said: “With an average increase of around 60p a week, most customers will again see a below-inflation increase in their water bill.
"However, we know that any increase is unwelcome, particularly at the moment."
The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) said regional variations and factors such as whether a customer is metered and how much water they use meant some households could face rises significantly above – or below – the average.
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And it said the postcode lottery of social tariff schemes meant many customers who cannot afford their bill “slip through the net”.
CCW chief executive Emma Clancy said: “Water is essential for all of us so no one should be worried about being able to afford their bill.
"These increases will bring more uncertainty to struggling households at a time when they can’t be certain they will get the help they need."
Jess Cook, water poverty lead at National Energy Action (NEA), said: “Social tariffs are essential for low-income households.
"Discounted water bills for those struggling to pay can stop the most vulnerable from cutting back or running up debt when they can ill afford to do so."
What help are water companies offering?
Water companies are increasing their support for low-income households by up to £200million, according to Water UK.
Some of the support is available now, while other schemes will become available over the coming weeks and months.
Below, we explain the help available from each water company, when it is available, how much you could get as well as when, and how you can claim.
Affinity Water is making one-off affordability payments of up to £50 for 30,000 of its more financially vulnerable customers.
The cash will be automatically credited to customers' annual bills around March.
The supplier said it is working through details of eligibility, but it expects some households on certain benefits, and some pensions, will get the help.
Anglian Water has launched a £135million package to help 330,000 customers struggling to pay their bills.
The water company is now offering a range of services to support struggling customers.
And some customers will be eligible for discounted tariffs that could slash their bills by up to 50%.
Others can get affordable payment plans, payment holidays in certain circumstances, and direct support through the Anglian Water Assistance Fund.
The fund helps to cover the cost of bills and could even clear your water debt if you're in arrears.
Customers in need of support should contact the water company directly – through their website, Twitter, Facebook or by calling the Anglican Water extra care team on 0800 169 3630.
Northumbrian Water has increased the support that it has available to its financially vulnerable customers.
Struggling households can set up a payment plan, apply for a low-income discount or apply for a payment break.
The support is available to households now, and anyone who thinks they could be eligible should visit the Northumbrian Water website to find out more.
The company has increased the length of payment holidays from three to six months to help households with their bills.
It has also moved more than 10,000 customers onto social tariffs.
If Portsmouth Water is your supplier, you should contact them directly if are having difficulties paying your bill.
Severn Trent helping 100,000 additional households with social tariffs as part of an additional £30 million package of support.
More than 215,000 households are already being supported.
As part of the company's Big Difference Scheme, households can get a reduction on their water bills if their income us below £18,278.
If you're eligible, you could get up to 90% off your average bill.
You can apply for the scheme on the Severn Trent website.
South East Water
South East Water has increased the threshold for its social tariff from £16,480 to £18,005.
This is so that more customers can receive financial help.
Eligible households are automatically enrolled in the scheme, so there is no need to apply.
South West Water
South West Water has made nearly £70 million of support available to customers since 2020.
More than £39.2million has been given back to customers through reduced bills.
If your supplier is South West Water and you need help paying your bill, you can fill in a simple form on its website to find out what help you can claim.
South Staffs Water and Cambridge Water
The company has increased the income threshold of their social tariff from £17,005 per year to £19,050, so that more customers are eligible.
You can find out more about the social tariffs on the supplier's website.
Southern Water is providing a £98m package of support for customers.
It has increased the minimum discount from 20% to 45%, with those most in need receiving up to 90% off their bills
Thames Water is to provide support to an additional 53,000 households this year.
The company has a range of support on offer for customers, including payment plans and debt support schemes.
The supplier is providing a total of £280million support help for the most vulnerable up until 2025.
It is helping through discounted tariffs and grants to individuals and families, with more than 200,000 customers set to be supported this year.
If you live in the United Utilities area, you can apply for help online.
How else can I save money on my water bills?
There's a number of ways you can slash your water bills in 2023.
Moving to a water meter could help some save some extra cash.
However, if you do use a lot of water then it makes no sense to have a meter as your bills could go up.
The Consumer Council for Water offers a free water meter calculator that'll tell you if you can save by fitting a water meter.
For example, if you have a big family and more people than bedrooms or simply use lots of water-intensive appliances like washing machines or dishwashers, a fixed fee will be better for you.
Having a water meter doesn't help with the standard charge that's based on where you live either, but it can help you cut down the costs of your personal usage at home.
Part of that is how long you spend in the shower too.
According to Uswitch, you could cut £70 from your energy bills and reduce your water bills too by reducing your wash time.
And leaving the water running while you brush your teeth could add £60 a year to your bills says Octopus.
The same goes for washing dishes, be sure you turn the tap off as if you’re doing it in the sink, leaving it running will add £25 to your annual bill.
Fixing leaks in the home is another. A leaky loo can waste between 215 and 400 litres of water per day.
Making sure you only use your washing machine or dishwasher when they are fully loaded helps too.
Plus, switching to an aerated shower head could save a household of four £75 on their energy bills and £45 on their water bills every year, Water UK estimates.
Many water companies offer free water-saving devices that shave pounds off your bills too – which can slash your bills by hundreds every year.
Contact your supplier or check out savewatersavemoney.co.uk.
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Plus, hundreds of thousands of struggling households could get up to £50 in extra help towards their water bills.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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