Water is life’s essential. Being unable to afford to pay your water bill is deeply distressing and can affect people’s lives. But when water bills aren’t paid, everyone’s bill goes up.
We’re asking for your views on our guidelines for water companies in supporting residential customers to pay their bills, access help and repay debts. We want your views on how we can protect people that can’t pay – while allowing companies to manage those that refuse to pay.
Our proposed changes reflect best practice in other sectors and findings from the independent review of water affordability in England and Wales carried out by CCW.
We welcome responses to our consultation by Wednesday 28 July 2021. We plan to publish our final guidelines in autumn 2021.
Read our consultation
Our ‘Guidelines for water companies in supporting residential customers pay their bill, access help and repay debts: a consultation’ main document summarises the main changes we propose to make and why we’re making them.
Appendix 1 of the consultation sets out our proposed guidelines and the changes we are making.
Appendix 2 of the consultation sets out the reasons for each of the changes we are making.
Purpose of our guidelines
We expect water companies to treat customers fairly and listen carefully to their needs in all that they do. Our payment, help and debt guidelines underline the importance of water companies supporting customers in financial difficulties and other vulnerable circumstances as we know these customers are at greater risk of harm. We want companies to factor our revised guidelines into their approach going forward.
Our guidelines include principles and minimum service expectations for companies to follow in supporting:
- customers in debt;
- customers in debt and facing debt recovery action by water companies and third parties
- all residential customers in England and Wales to pay their water, wastewater or combined bill;
- customers in vulnerable circumstances, including those at risk of falling into debt; and
- customers who have their accounts managed by agents such as local authorities and housing associations.
We’re updating our guidelines to:
- help deliver our vision of improving life through water by encouraging water companies to develop a better understanding of the issues customers face and to be flexible to their evolving needs;
- deliver improved experiences for customers following the recommendations from CCW’s independent review of water affordability in England and Wales;
- reflect on the findings of our #ListenCareShare research.
Respond to our consultation
Please email your response to [email protected] ofwat.gov.uk with the subject ‘Payment, help and debt guidelines consultation 2021’. Or write to ‘Payment, help and debt guidelines consultation 2021’ at Centre City Tower, 7 Hill Street, Birmingham, B5 4UA.
Our consultation sets out the terms and conditions in how we will use your response, including publishing it.