Birmingham city council leader Ian Ward has revealed talks are underway with Severn Trent to cut water bills for some of the city’s poorest households. The aim is to secure a reduction for residents currently in receipt of universal credit.
It comes as 157,637 of Birmingham’s population, roughly 1.1 million, were on Universal Credit in February this year compared with 88,568 people in February 2020, according to government figures.
Water UK, the industry body, said bills would rise by an average of 1.7% in England and Wales from April, pushing up the typical annual bill by roughly £7 to £419 a year.
Although many households qualify for a social water tariff, which can save about £148 a year from the average bill, many customers who cannot afford their water bill are not receiving the financial support they need.
Both Severn Trent and Birmingham city council have ambitions to help thousands of people out of poverty with East Birmingham seen as a potential area for intervention and support.
It comes as 85 per cent of wards in East Birmingham, including Hodge Hill, Washwood Heath, and Ward End, are within the top 10 per cent most deprived wards in England.
Birmingham council leader Ian Ward said: “The cost of living crisis means more and more people across Birmingham are struggling to keep their heads above water and I’m determined to work with our partners across the city to help in any way we can
“Severn Trent is committed to helping us support struggling households and we’re now drawing up plans to get help to those in greatest need. Together we want to help Birmingham families at a time of great hardship.”
Liv Garfield, chief executive, Severn Trent said: “We know that this is a challenging time for many of our customers facing cost of living challenges and we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help.
“We’re looking forward to working with Birmingham city council to ensure that those across the city that need extra help can get it. We’ve got schemes to support customers with bills which are available through our website and very soon we’ll be sharing details of more support that we will be making available.”
Liam Byrne, MP for Hodge Hill, said: “Thank god Birmingham city council is stepping in where the government has failed to act. It’s the right time as families are sacrificing so much to make ends meet. This’ll make a vital bit of difference.”