Water rebate could be introduced in Birmingham as Severn Trent and council in talks

Birmingham City Council in talks with Severn Trent to help residents amid cost of living crisis as almost fifth of the city’s population is on Universal Credit

A water rebate could soon be introduced to residents within Birmingham city council as the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze households.

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.

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It comes as 157,637 (17.8%) of Birmingham’s population, roughly 1.1 million, were on Universal Credit in February this year compared with 88,568 people (10%) in February 2020, according to government figures.

Water and sewerage bills will rise to £419 from April for the average household in England and Wales. The rise will add an extra £7 to bills, which is a 1.7% increase. In Scotland, water and sewerage prices depend on your council tax band and are covered by a “combined service charge”. Scottish households will see water and waste charges increase by 4.2% on average from April. In Northern Ireland, non-domestic water and sewerage charges will rise by 0.9%, in line with inflation, from 1 April.

How much are water bills set to rise by?

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.

Birmingham skyline

Are any parts of Birmingham more vulnerable than others?

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.

Cllr Ian Ward, Birmingham

What have politicians and Severn Trent said in their own words?

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.”

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