Both firms maintain an active Priority Services Register, which helps identify customers who may benefit from extra support in the event of a power cut, loss of water supply or in response to an enquiry about a utility bill.
Through their ongoing effort to update the register and to encourage more people to join, the companies will be writing to thousands of Essex customers. Along with the invitation to join, an offer is also made to customers to seek support from the Citizens Advice service in Essex for help with any financial problems.
Martin Lord, Director of Development for the Citizens Advice service for Essex, said: “Our current work to support people in fuel poverty is making a huge impact. The Affordable Warmth Programme and the Energy Redress Scheme funds us to undertake this work, enabling us to work with a range of partners, including Essex County Council.
“We aim to support people struggling with utility and electricity bills or who need help with debt issues. We help maximise income, reduce energy and water bills. We also help with switching energy supplier to get a better deal.
“We are delighted to be working with UK Power Networks and Essex and Suffolk Water to extend our reach. We think this will enable us to find more people who desperately need our help but have not sought it before.”
Giulia Privitera, social sustainability strategy and programme manager for UK Power Networks which delivers electricity to homes and businesses across the East of England, said: “We run a Priority Services Register to help people in vulnerable situations, meaning we can reach out proactively in the rare event of a power cut to provide additional support.
“This is enhanced by teaming up with an expert partner in Citizens Advice who can particularly support people in financial difficulties such as struggling to pay their household bills. We want to build on the importance of cross-utility partnerships like this one, maximising the benefits we can unlock for customers across different sectors with one single point of interaction.”
Lisa Connell, Customer Service Manager from Essex and Suffolk Water said: “This timely initiative builds on some of our existing work to reach out to some of the most vulnerable members of the communities we serve.
“We will be connecting them with the expert services of Citizens Advice to provide support with their financial situation. We already provide a range of tariffs and payment plans for people in financial difficulty. This initiative will enable us to reach out and offer help to customers who might not have previously sought help who are suffering in silence.”