We are committed to ensuring all our customers in financially vulnerable circumstances are supported as part of our longer-term customer experience plans. We offer a range of options to support them.
We also run a customer assistance fund to support customers with their water debt. We also work with them to help them remain debt free, including enrolling them onto social tariffs and referring them to charities such as Step Change, for household debt advice. We understand that customers in water debt may also have wider financial issues so we help customers with basic living costs outside our water and wastewater services through a dedicated trust fund.
Over the past year we have helped around 56,000 of our most financially challenged customers via our two social tariffs - Watersure and Watersure Plus - up 48 per cent on 2016/17. These have benefitted a wide range of lower income families including disabled, those needing extra water for medical conditions, larger families and older people. We know there are many more customers eligible for a social tariff and next year we aim to increase customers we help financially to over 80,000.
Customer Assistance Fund.
Our Customer Assistance Fund can help customers who genuinely cannot pay their bills. During 2017/18, we’ve helped over 7,500 customers with an average support payment of £638. We’ve contributed over £650,000 to the independent Thames Water Trust Fund. As well as helping nearly 1,300 customers directly during 2017/18, with donations of life-changing essential items such as a fridge or a washing machine, the fund also supports agencies providing debt advice, including the Citizens Advice Bureau. More information about our Customer Assistance Fund can be found here.
Our social tariffs.
We have two social tariffs – Water Sure and Water Sure Plus – and in 2017/18 we helped over 56,000 households via these schemes, up 48% on 2016/17. The average discount per combined services customer is expected to be £231 and waste services £102. To understand who has affordability issues so we can be ‘here for customers’, we’re raising awareness of our services through targeted campaigns and promotion via charities and partners. More information about WaterSure and WaterSure Plus tariff can be found here.
We also work with Stepchange to offer debt advice to customers in financial difficulty. This is offered after the customer has been supported with the Customer Assistance Fund, Watersure or Watersure Plus.