On May 12, 2022, the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) of England and Wales, responsible for the economic regulation of water, released a report indicating that many people are struggling to afford their water bills. In addition to water bills, many are also struggling to pay for their heat and fuel. England and Wales already face an issue with poverty and the water struggles in England and Wales amplify this situation further. Water is an essential resource that all people require for survival, but for those living in poverty, access to sufficient water becomes a luxury that many cannot afford.
New Helpful Guidelines
Ofwat is attempting to offset these struggles by producing a set of guidelines for water companies. This new set of guidelines aims to help alleviate the ongoing water struggles in England and Wales. These individuals can request assistance in paying water bills or even in repaying their debt, which makes the situation more manageable. Out of 10 households with children, seven households anticipate facing difficulties paying a utility bill over the course of 2022.
Cost of Goods Soars
Water struggles in England and Wales are becoming a severe concern that many are attempting to resolve. Anti-poverty campaigns note surging prices of many goods, including water, with disproportionate impacts on Britain’s most impoverished citizens. The prices of the cheapest goods that those living in poverty are usually consumers of are rising drastically. These cheaper products are already a cause of concern as these products are “calorie-dense” and lacking in nutrients. People living in poverty, according to research, are at risk of premature mortality due to the consumption of low-quality food and subpar standards of air quality in residences. These avoidable health issues add to the financial burden that those in poverty face on a daily basis.
Ofwat is urging water companies across the area to use their customer-based data to identify and contact households struggling to afford their water bills right now. This will better allow companies to understand the nature of support necessary and help identify who needs assistance the most. The guidelines direct companies to offer flexible payment plans and work to resolve repayment issues without resorting to legal action. A water affordability review in 2021 found that across England and Wales, 1.5 million households are living in water poverty. In addition, the review noted that another 3 million households were at risk of living in water poverty.
Aid is on the Way
These ongoing water struggles in England and Wales are taking a toll on millions of citizens struggling in poverty. However, water companies, such as “Severn Trent launched a £30 million financial support package” intended to help 100,000 of its current customers who are struggling to pay their water bills as the prices of all goods continue to soar. In addition to Severn Trent, on May 26, 2022, Britain’s government also announced that it will pay £15 billion worth of grants to households struggling to pay their bills in addition to the £22 billion it gave in support earlier this year.
These resolutions help alleviate major issues for those in poverty and aid people in their most urgent needs.
– Christina Papas