Households who are struggling encouraged to contact Welsh Water Company working with over 300 local organisations to help customers in need
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit utility company in Wales and England, has announced, as part of its annual results for 2021-22, that it is investing £12 million this year to support its most vulnerable customers during the current ‘cost of living’ crisis.
The company, with over 1.3 million household customers in most of Wales and parts of England, is making available £55 million across the five years to 2025 to provide financial assistance to its customers. 127,000 of Welsh Water’s customers now benefit from discounted bills through social tariffs – a larger number, proportionate to the company’s size, than any other water company in England and Wales. The company is earmarking over £12 million in 2022/23 to support its vulnerable customers who are struggling with their water bills and it has confirmed that it wants to support an additional 50,000 low-income households.
Welsh Water works with over 300 local organisations (including Citizen’s Advice, Welsh Government’s NEST scheme to support energy efficiency improvements, Job Centre Plus, housing associations and foodbanks) to help identify and support customers who may be eligible for a discounted bill. It is also urging customers who may be facing difficulties to contact the company as soon as possible to discuss the range of available options including flexible payment schemes.
The company can provide short term assistance through reduced payment plans or payment holidays, as well as advise customers on how to reduce their charges longer term by opting to have a free water meter installed and provide guidance on how to use water efficiently which can help reduce the volume of water used.
This support is being targeted at those households facing difficulties paying their water bills and is enabled by the company’s not-for-profit model.
Welsh Water’s latest results show that it continued to invest nearly £1 million a day in its water and wastewater services over the past 12 months. Operating costs increased £14 million last year due to rising energy prices and need for additional measures to maintain essential water and wastewater services during last summer’s first ever amber hot weather warning and record levels of visitors to parts of Wales.
The company’s focus on delivering value for money for its customers has also improved efficiency. This has resulted in cost-savings of £16 million in 2021-22 with efficiency initiatives including using digital, automation and process improvements. Innovative ways of working have also been embedded since covid-19 utilising online technology to reduce our location footprint and associated expenditure.
Chair of Glas Cymru, Alastair Lyons, said: “Our latest results show that we have delivered a strong performance despite the continuing operational and cost challenges created by Covid-19 and dramatic weather patterns – a further reminder of the urgency of tackling climate change.
“As a company, we always plan for the long-term but it is also important that we respond to events as they unfold in the short-term. Our unique non-shareholder corporate structure allows us an undivided focus on our customers and their needs: given the prevailing economic climate, it is vital that we provide targeted support to help those most in need.”
Welsh Water Chief Executive, Peter Perry, said: “As a company owned on behalf of its customers, we are proud that we have some of the highest levels of customer trust in the sector.
“We know that this trust must be earned by continuing to do the right thing: this is why we are totally committed to supporting our customers and their communities, especially during these difficult times as households struggle to make ends meet. By making available over £12 million for our social tariffs scheme this year alone, we are able to support low-income households struggling to pay their bills. Anyone who is concerned about how they can pay their water bills should contact us as soon as they can to discuss what support may be available to them.”