This matches our commitment as one of the first signatories of the
C-19 Business Pledge. The Pledge was founded by former Cabinet Minister, Rt Hon. Justine Greening and entrepreneur David Harrison. Businesses across the country have signed up to commit themselves to support customers, employees and communities get through the immediate challenges of coronavirus, as well as aiding in the recovery.
£250,000 of in-kind support through volunteering by more than 160 of our people
These employees – including 124 from our North East operating area and 47 from Essex & Suffolk – have signed up to donate their time to supporting great causes, including the NHS and St John's Ambulance.
Our programme is working to match people with community needs, allowing them to carry out roles including delivering food to vulnerable people and talking on the phone with those who are socially isolated.
It was set up to allow employees who are unable to work from home or in a safe environment and who are not needed to be trained up as reserves for critical roles delivering essential water and wastewater services, to support good causes. By gifting their time, it means zero people who are unable to do their usual jobs will be furloughed.
1,260 people working on site and in the field in line with Government guidelines to keep our water flowing and toilets flushing
This includes 337 people in Essex & Suffolk and 923 people in the North East. We did a thorough assessment of what was non-essential work that we should stand down, including visits to customers’ homes. For those who are still working in our communities, we have shared consistent messages explaining the reasons to our customers and asking them to maintain social distancing when they see our people at work in their area.
2,760 Covid-19 safety checks carried out by our teams, ensuring tasks are completed in line with social distancing guidelines
Getting Everyone Home Safe Every Day is always a top priority for us. We always ask our people to carry out 60-second checks before the start of any job to ensure it is safe to continue. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have encouraged them to undertake specific checks to ensure they can follow social distancing guidelines and have the correct PPE. In our North East operating area 1,882 have been completed, while in Essex and Suffolk there have been 878. On 48 occasions, they have identified the need to stop a job because of a health and safety issue through these checks.
We’ve also issued 12 new Toolbox Talks to our people explaining in practical terms how they can apply COVID-19 precautions, including social distancing guidelines to their jobs, and we’ve reconfigured our fleet so people do not have to share a vehicle.
1,594 people now working from home supported by investment in new technology
1,189 employees in the North East and 405 in Essex & Suffolk are working from home. Achieving this included moving 500 people from our customer contact centres to home working, supported by investment in technology. In planning for this, our first thought was to protect those in the most vulnerable categories, so we prioritised getting them set up at home first.
For colleagues working from home, we’ve places a specific focus on health & wellbeing. We’ve created a dedicated page for this in our weekly newsletter, and on our intranet, including a weekly podcast.
5,000+ households benefiting from a three-month payment break
This is a specific offer related to customers who may be struggling financially due to the impact of COVID-19. At the start of May, 1,939 customers in Essex & Suffolk have been given a payment break, along with 3,084 in the North East.
1,700 extra customers signed up to our Priority Services Register to match our support to their circumstances
The free additional services we offer cater for a range of mobility and health needs, accessibility and language issues, and allowing a nominated person to manage a customer’s account. We strongly recommend that customers who have received a shielding letter from their GP in regards to protecting themselves from COVID-19 should sign up to Priority Services so we can assist them as much as we can.
14.6 million bathtubs – or 1.2 billion litres – of the best quality water supplied to customers every day
In Essex and Suffolk, that’s 475 million litres per day, or 5.9 million bathtubs. In the North East it’s 696 million litres or 8.7 million bathtubs. Our key workers are ensuring this keeps flowing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring our customers can wash their hands and protect against infection.
2,000 customers receiving bill reductions through being added to our Social Tariff and WaterSure schemes
In total, we have 28,689 Northumbrian Water and 9,946 Essex & Suffolk Water customers in receipt of social tariffs.
Through WaterSure we cap metered charges for customers on benefits, so if they need to use more water than average, for reasons that can't be helped, they won't be charged. Instead, we base charges on the average charge of a similar home.
Our SupportPlus scheme can reduce bills by 50% for customers in certain circumstances.
10,000 litres of emergency water supplied to keep NHS teams hydrated, plus extra work to ensure resilient supplies to new and existing NHS sites
We have delivered 5,000 litres of bottled water to four hospital sites in the North East following requests for providing safe ways for staff to keep hydrated on shifts. We have delivered a further 5,000 litres to five hospitals in Essex & Suffolk.
In addition our teams have visited all hospitals, trusts and hospices in the regions and carried out checks on pipes and water supplies to make sure they are fully working and in the best condition, and carrying out work free of charge.
We’ve also updated emergency plans for all of the locations, carried out checks on storage and tested back up supplies to make sure they’re ready to be used. All NHS and care facilities have been made priority sites for our teams, meaning if anything does go wrong with supplies then our response teams are ready 24/7 to get them fixed and back on immediately.
£165,000 funding to help environmental groups sustain their work
This includes our Branch Out fund, which supports projects that reconnect habitats for the benefit of people and wildlife, aiming to build resilience in the regions whilst bringing benefits to water, wildlife and communities.
2,446 people accessing education resources since school closures, including new careers sessions delivered via Zoom
These include educational games, factsheets on a range of water-related issues and links to the National Curriculum. In a partnership with the Education Development Trust to fill the gap left by the cancellation of work experience programmes, youngsters have been using Zoom to interact with our engineers and scientists.
2 urgent new water mains installed to support the NHS
Essex & Suffolk Water teams took on urgent installation of two new water mains. The first, in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, will serve a development to be used as 93 temporary housing units or a secondary treatment unit for the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust to use during the COVID-19 outbreak. The second scheme supports distribution and logistics company Ziegler at the London Gateway port in Stanford-le-Hope. Ziegler have over 100 staff that are key workers supporting the Nightingale and other hospitals across the region through the Coronavirus, providing vital supplies of PPE equipment.
3,000 businesses helped to bounce back through taking a leading role in North East England Chamber of Commerce’s plan for economic recovery
As Chair of North East England Chamber of Commerce’s Partner group, our Corporate Affairs Director Louise Hunter will spearhead a project to identify how the region’s businesses can recover from COVID-19. This will cover the local business environment, infrastructure, education, employment and skills and business finance.