Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has called on water companies to "look closely" at whether price increases are necessary and introduce special tariffs for hard-pressed households.
In a letter to suppliers, Mr Paterson said the firms should recognise the financial strain people are under.
The intervention came ahead of an Ofwat ruling expected later this week on an application from Thames Water to increase bills by £29 in 2014-15.
The regulator is expected to reject the application and has questioned the profits being made by firms.
It suggested its next Price Review could ease the upward pressure on bills by up to £750 million after 2015.
More top news
A "wicked and selfish" mother has been jailed for life for murdering her 20-month-old daughter over a bitter custody battle.
Police have released new CCTV footage of Corrie McKeague in a bid to find the missing RAF serviceman.
Sir Philip Green has said he will 'sort' the BHS pension deficit as an act of goodwill, but that may cost him a sizable part of his fortune.