In a modern world, water is recognised as a human right. It is understood to be essential to life and yet some are so concerned about the cost of it that they actively decide not to use the water they vitally need and find themselves falling into debt or self-rationing their water use. These families may also be making impossible choices between heating and eating, at the same time as restricting bathing to once a week, all sharing the same bath water, because the cost of their water, and the cost of heating it, is just too high.
The water sector recognises the need to address affordability and its role in delivering increased public and social value when managing this essential service. They already offer a range of welcome support options to customers, but support levels vary across each company and are mainly funded through customer cross-subsidy. The amount a customer pays in cross-subsidy in 2020/21 prices ranges by £14.00 across England and Wales. This unfortunately means that in some areas with low cross-subsidies customers may not be eligible for support, or may get less support, than they would in an area with a higher cross-subsidy. It’s a postcode lottery, and it impacts the physical and mental wellbeing of the people affected by it.