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18 August 21

Affinity Water adopts a collaborative approach to reach out to customers struggling financially and soon it will be communicating via sign language

Affinity Water and UK Power Networks are working in partnership to support customers who are struggling financially and provide information on the help available to them.

The new initiative is part of a package of measures that Affinity Water, the UK’s largest water only company in the UK, is offering to customers who may be struggling financially for a variety of reasons including the impact of the Covid19 pandemic. A sign language service will also be launched next month.

To date Affinity Water has offered payment breaks to over 7,300 customers and another 84,000 customers are now on its Low-Income Tariff. With over 4,000 people also signed up to the water industry’s WaterSure scheme to help those in receipt of benefits pay their bills if they have to use a lot of water.

Affinity Water has sent out over 7000 emails to households currently on Affinity Water’s PSR (Priority Services Register) to promote UK Power Networks’ Priority Services Register. Those on UK Power Networks’ PSR have access to tailored communication and support such as home visits, hot meals and even free hotel stays if an unusually long incident occurs. In partnership with ‘Connect for Help’, UK Power Networks also offer a free to use telephone service which offers advice to help people reduce their energy bills, stay warm and access the local help available to them – all without costing customers any money.

James Tipler Head of Billing and Debt Management said:

“Affinity Water’s partnership with UK Power Networks is really benefitting customers who may be struggling financially not just with their water bill but with their energy costs too. We aim to expand the campaign and share with households on the UK Power Networks’ Priority Services Register details of the financial support available through social tariffs and Affinity Water’s own PSR. The plan is to reach 10,000 households in the near future. This is part of a package of measures we are adopting to reach out to customers in need of support and we advise them to contact us sooner rather than later if they are struggling financially. Details of how they can do this are on our website.”

From September 1st 2021 Affinity Water will also be partnering with Sign Solutions which allows deaf people to call organisations and communicate in their first language of British Sign Language (BSL) through a remote video interpreter.

Affinity Water has also been working with a local charity ‘Small Acts of Kindness’ for a second year to provide information on our Priority Services Register to senior residents in Hertfordshire via the Purple Pages Information packs.

Liz Freitas Customer Operations Inclusive Services Engagement Manager explained:

“We want to make it easy for our customers to contact us by whatever method they choose, and we care about making our services accessible to all so are delighted to be working in partnership with Sign Solutions.

“We also have formed a successful partnership with the local charity Small Acts of Kindness to include information about our schemes in its information packs. Their information packs contain a comprehensive range of literature about services and activities provided by national and local organisations that are relevant and useful to older people and always with a telephone contact. We have provided the charity with 8000 flyers that explain the Priority Services Register to go in the packs.

“This is an innovative project because it takes information directly to older vulnerable people about services and activities that very often, they might not have known or even thought about.”

Dr Giulia Privitera, Social Sustainability Strategy and Programme Manager at UK Power Networks said:

“Supporting our customers has never been more important than it is today. The pandemic has increased the challenges people are facing and many more customers are now at risk of fuel poverty. Our partnership with Affinity Water demonstrates the true value of collaboration across the utility sector. We are making it easier for people to access the support available from their different utility providers. By joining forces we can make sure the extra help available continues to reach our customers who need it most.”

More information can be found here.

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