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Talks underway to cut back on water bills for Birmingham households

A water discount may soon be introduced to residents in Birmingham City Council as the cost of living crisis continues to put pressure on households. Birmingham City Councilor Ian Ward has revealed that negotiations are underway with Severn Trent to cut water bills for some of the city’s poorest households. The goal is to ensure a reduction for residents currently receiving Universal Credit.

That comes as 157,637 (17.8%) of Birmingham’s population, around 1.1 million, were on Universal Credit in February this year compared to 88,568 people (10%) 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 the typical annual bill up by around £ 7 to £ 419 a year.

Although many households qualify for a social water rate that can save around £ 148 a year from the average bill, many customers who cannot afford their water bill do not receive 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.

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If the negotiations succeed with Severn Trent, the scheme will be one of the first municipally led water discount schemes in England and Wales. This is because 85 per cent of the branches in East Birmingham, including Hodge Hill, Washwood Heath and Ward End, are within the 10 per cent most exposed wards in England.

Birmingham Councilor Ian Ward said: “The cost of living crisis means more and more people across Birmingham are struggling to stay afloat and I am 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 are now working out plans to help those most in need. Together, we want to help Birmingham families in a time of great difficulty.”

Liv Garfield, CEO, Severn Trent said: “We know this is a challenging time for many of our clients who are facing cost of living challenges and we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help.

“We look forward to working with Birmingham City Council to ensure that those throughout the city who need extra help can get it. We have schemes to support clients with bills available through our website, and very soon we will be sharing details of more support that we will provide. “

Liam Byrne, a Hodge Hill MP, said: “Thank God Birmingham City Council is stepping in where the government has failed to act. This is the right time when families are sacrificing so much to make ends meet. This will do a vital part of difference. “

EXAMINATION: How will you save money in the midst of the cost of living crisis?

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