We provide an essential service, one that our customers rely on every day. From eating and drinking to washing, cleaning and flushing the loo – everyone needs water for life.

We know that sometimes customers can struggle when using or paying for our service. This might be because they have a long-term health condition, are on a low income or something has happened, and they are finding it difficult to cope with day-to-day life. It might be a permanent situation, or something temporary but it could happen to any customer at any time.

The facts

  • 2.5 million UK households are struggling to pay their water bill.
  • 41 per cent of our customers find it hard to keep up with household bills.
  • 382,000 of our customers are facing situations of long-term vulnerability.
  • 164,000 are facing short-term or transient vulnerability.

This is why we’ve developed our Reach and Support programme – so whatever the personal characteristics or circumstances of our customers, we do the right thing by providing an inclusive service that supports their individual needs.

As of July 2020, we have:

  • Given over 116,000 customers either a discount off their bill or a capped bill.
  • Increased the number of people on our Priority Services Register to 26,000.
  • Helped more than 6,000 people get back on track with paying their bill with our New Start scheme.
  • Made 90,000 debt advice and benefits entitlements visits.

By 2025 our aim is that:

  • 90 per cent of customers who receive financial assistance from us will be paying their bills regularly.
  • 177,000 customers will receive financial support through our package of schemes and tariffs.
  • 90 per cent of customers who have received nonfinancial support will be satisfied that it met their needs.

How COVID-19 has changed our approach

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected customers across our region, and we have made it our priority to ensure that they get the help and support they need during this difficult time. This included providing additional financial support and ensuring that our customers who are vulnerable get extra help and reassurance. We took immediate action which included:

  • Giving customers financially impacted by COVID-19 a three-month payment holiday.
  • Moving to automatic renewal for all customers on our Essentials tariff and WaterSure, and we made the WaterSure application process more streamlined.
  • Temporarily stopping all debt collection and litigation activity.
  • Calling our most vulnerable customers to see if they needed any extra help.
  • Accepting applications for our Priority Services Register made by trusted third parties and promoting this across social media.
  • Direct promotion of our Priority Services Register to encourage vulnerable customers who are shielding to sign up.
  • Donating £45,000 to local community foundations and foodbanks.

We know that it is going to take some time for life to return to normal for many of our customers so we will continue to make sure that those impacted by COVID-19 receive the tailored support they need.

For more information on our support tariffs and schemes or to apply for yourself, or someone you know, to be added to our Priority Services Register call us free on 0800 027 0363.

Daily Echo: