Thames Water is highlighting its range of financial support options for customers to mark Debt Awareness Week.
The water company is sharing information about services for customers who might be struggling to pay their water bills or require extra support, using its social media channels to signpost where customers can seek advice and help.
Debt Awareness Week is an?annual campaign run by debt charity StepChange?to help people talk more openly about debt-related issues.?
This year’s campaign runs from 22-28 and is described as a chance to share the message that nobody needs to deal with debts on their own, and that free and impartial advice is available.
Mike Bingham, Thames Water’s affordability lead, said: “Debt Awareness Week is a great way to share how we can support customers financially if they are dealing with debt and might need access to free advice and one-to-one counselling.
"We know the last year?has been challenging for many of our customers, and we’re committed to providing options for those who are worried about their bills and need an extra helping hand.”
Mr Bingham added: “With more than 200,000 registered households, our WaterHelp financial support scheme is currently the largest of its kind and our Flexible Payment scheme is supporting customers financially affected by Covid-19.
"By doubling our Trust Fund last year, we’ve been able to donate more to the debt advice providers we work closely with and help our customers who need extra support during these challenging times.”
Thames Water and water companies across the UK provide several financial support options to their customers, including:
- WaterSure – Offers a cap on water bills for eligible households who are on a meter and receive benefits and might be struggling to pay their bills because they have a large family or have a water-dependent medical condition.
- Social Tariffs – Thames Water’s WaterHelp scheme offers eligible households on low incomes a 50 per cent discount on their water bill.
In February, Thames Water enrolled its 200,000th WaterHelp social tariff customer and aims to help 300,000 customers by 2025.
Last year the company supported 55,000 extra customers through WaterHelp and distributed £1.7m in grants to help those with water bill debt.
Thames Water also put in place a range of measures for customers who may benefit from some additional support during the coronavirus pandemic and is continuing these initiatives while the outbreak continues. This includes:
- Launching?a flexible payments scheme for customers?who have been financially affected by Covid-19; over 7,500 customers have benefited from this so far.
- Committing up to £4 million to its?Customer Assistance Fund?which provides debt support through payment matching and financial help for customers with outstanding bills.
- Becoming the largest charitable funder of debt advice within the Thames Valley region after?doubling its independent Trust Fund donation to £1 million?to support customers who are in financial need.
Thames Water also offers a free Priority Services Register (PSR) for customers who need extra support during an operational incident, including temporary disruption to water supplies.
In such circumstances, priority service customers are contacted by Thames Water’s care team for bottled water deliveries directly to their homes if they are unable to get to a collection hub.
The system also gives them advanced warning of planned work and provides tailored communication services.
Customers living with long-term health conditions, mobility issues or those who qualify for a pension can join the register. The company has 125,000 customers signed up to its PSR but aims to have 410,000 by 2025.
Help can be accessed via https://www.thameswater.co.uk/