Customer A had been in contact with us regularly in previous years because she’d been struggling to make payments as her daughter had been ill; and requested to restructure her instalments.
In January 2020, when she contacted us again, we discussed the tariffs we had available with her. She wasn’t eligible for our tariff aimed at those on low incomes. She was struggling financially, so we suggested she contact StepChange for holistic debt advice. We provided her with their phone number and a link to their online budgeting tool via text message and put her account on hold while she sought debt advice.
She had only made three payments in the previous year and owed us £960.
After contacting StepChange for a full assessment, she provided us with a copy of her income and expenditure. This showed that she had multiple debts with other organisations and owed more £10,000 in total.
We provided her with a 50% discount on her ongoing charges and put her arrears payments on hold. This reduced her payments to just £14 a month, and she is eligible for all her arrears of £960 to be written off, over two years. The first payment will be applied in March 2021. Customer A has been making regular payments to us since she was accepted onto our scheme and will be debt free if she continues these reduced payments in March 2022.
We were contacted by Customer B’s support worker because he was struggling to pay our bill and the support worker was aware of our support schemes. The customer had arrears with us over two accounts - one for a previous address and one for his current address. He owed us a total of £2,447, including charges back to 2008. The support worker provided the necessary supporting income and expenditure assessment, which showed our customer had five other non-priority debts. We agreed to him paying £22 a month to cover reduced payments and put all his payments towards his arrears on hold.
Customer B has been making fortnightly payments ever since, was due to be debt free after the final arrears payment to us in April 2021.
Customer C contacted us because she was previously paying via Water Direct. These payments had stopped, so our customer wanted to set up a new arrangement with us.
When discussing the payments, we became aware that she was claiming Income Support, had three children under 18 in her home, and a medical condition which meant she needed to use more water. We identified she was eligible for the WaterSure tariff. Customer C had an outstanding balance of more than £2,300.
We agreed a reduced payment arrangement based on the WaterSure scheme while she provided proof of eligibility. The WaterSure scheme capped her monthly bill at £34 per month.
Customer C’s water consumption was still higher than expected for her family size, and we found out that this was due to a tap in her garden which was accessible to other neighbours. To assist our customer to reduce wastage through neighbours using her tap, we bought a lockable cover for her outside tap so that only her family could use it as needed.
We also registered our customer for Priority Services, as she would need bottled water if there was an extended interruption to supply due to her health condition.
Two examples of recent feedback we’ve received from customers who we’ve supported financially are included below.
"I think because they have done a good option to help other people, they listen to problems of other people, and you feel like you've got help from them as well. They think about you - about people. The fact that they think about doing something good - it's really emotional and very, very important in life."
"When we first set it up, the lady I spoke to was very helpful - showed empathy. It was simple to complete, very helpful. We were struggling and she was incredibly helpful."