Thames Water provides service to over 15 million people across the UK, and financial assistance is available to families on a low income and the vulnerable. The company tries to work with customers to provide some form of support when they struggle with the payment on their water bills, or if they are in debt with the provider.
Some of the solutions available, such as the Thames Water Customer Assistance Fund, are provided directly by the company. This means the funds are offered to those that meet conditions in place, and it is often combined with payment plans and extensions. Other programmes, such as the Water Direct scheme, depend on whether a family or household is on some form of government benefits.
Payments plans for bills and the Customer Assistance Fund
These two programmes often go hand in hand when supporting low income families. Each will require an application by the customer, and there are eligibility criteria in place such as income and whether the family is in a hardship or not.
The Thames Water Customer Assistance Fund is for people in debt with the company. An application will need to be completed by the customer, and based on an assessment and a review of the account, the company will decide what type of assistance, if anything, to provide for their arrears. It can range from grants for the bills due or some other form of credit. This can help those facing a financial emergency. Ring 0800 111 4680 for information.
Payment plans will be entered into with customers that are eligible. These can help with arrears on an account as the amount can be paid down over time. The plan will also be customised based on the household’s income and other criteria.
In some cases, Thames Water will partner with the Job Centre Plus or Department for Work and Pensions to deduct the water bill payment directly from the customer’s benefits. This is one option for people on the payment plans, and this will help reduce the chances for a disconnect as well as lower the possibility of a County Court Claim.
Schemes from Thames Water
There are several available. Many are run in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions or other authorities, and the aim is to help keep the households water service on.
The Water Direct scheme will sent the current bill due, and any arrears, so they are affordable. This is only for people on government benefits, such as Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, the Pension Credit or a few others. Thousands of customers in poverty, the elderly, or families on a low income use this scheme.
Thames Water will work closely with DWP on enrolling individuals into the Water Direct scheme, and it is free to those customers who are eligible. If after applying to Thames Water and the Department of Work and Pensions, if the application is successful, the individual will not need to worry about a disconnect occurring or further legal action on any debts or arrears due.
Households with a large family, disability or a medical condition can enroll into the WaterSure scheme. In addition, the person applying for this form of assistance needs to be on benefits and use a large amount of water from their meter. While this programme tends to be more limited, for those that are eligible Thames Water will also generally apply this scheme with other form of aid, such as a payment plan.
WaterSure Plus is for people on means tested government benefits. Households that apply need to be on Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Support, the Universal Credit, or be elderly on a pension. So it is focused on people that receive assistance from the government.
This particular scheme can help with both sewage and water costs by offering discounts or rebates to the family. While it will not address any arrears that may be due, it is an effective option for making the bill more affordable in the future. The lower rates will also help the low income family free up their income for other household expenses they have.
Some homes may be overpaying when rainwater does not actually drain into the sewer. Thames Water customers may click on ‘My Waste Water’ to request a bill reduction, or call on 0845 920 0800.
For more information on these or other Thames Water schemes or assistance funds, the provider has a dedicated customer service team. The phone number to ring for more information is 0800 009 3652.