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01 February 23

Affinity Water urges its customers to check to see if they are eligible for help with paying their bills

  • Since 2020 there have been 8,197 payment breaks applied for up to three months
  • Over 93,000 customers are now on our low-income discounted tariff
  • Over 112,706 households on the Priority Services Register (an increase of 4,000 since November 2022)
  • Over half a million proactive emails were sent to customers who may be financially vulnerable

As the cost-of-living crisis continues and energy bills rise, with another Big Freeze on the way Affinity Water is again urging its customers to check to see if they qualify for help with paying their bills this year.

The Company has increased the number of customers on discounted tariffs for low-income households by over 55% since March 2020 and this year it is making one-off affordability payments of £50 for up to 30,000 of the company’s most financially vulnerable customers. There is no need to claim the discount as the £50 will be taken off water bills from April 2023 onwards.

Over half a million “We’re Here to Help” emails have gone out to both metered and unmetered customers since the Autumn of 2022 telling them of the help that is available if they are struggling to pay their bills and how to apply for it.

The Company supplies 3.8 million people with 950 million litres of water each day across the South-East and five London Boroughs.

Customers have been informed of the payment options available including flexible payment plans, using certain benefit payments, a capped WaterSure tariff and Independent Debt advice.

Customers can apply for a reduced water bill if their household income is less than £17,005 or if they are currently claiming certain benefits such as Universal Credit or Job Seeker’s Allowance. This means they may be eligible for a low-income fixed tariff (LIFT) which enables them to receive a fixed-price bill each year for clean water. Payments can also be split across the year by paying by Direct Debits.

If they receive a council tax reduction/support, they may be eligible for the higher rate discount, and their clean water bill will be fixed at a certain level each year.

There are also debt support schemes available to help households that have faced a change in their circumstances which may have led to financial difficulties. The Company emphasises that it is important to ask for help sooner rather than later and to check to see if the qualifying criteria has changed at all allowing more people to become eligible.

They can find out more here: affinitywater.co.uk/strugglingtopay

Customers who are clinically vulnerable, have sight, hearing impairments, or additional health needs, can join the free priority services register. By signing up it will allow the Company to support them better.

Customers can find out how to save money on their energy bills with our water saving tips, which are more important than ever.

The Company has continued to work in collaboration with Reed in Partnership in Watford and the CAB in Luton to explain directly to concerned customers how they can access help with more events planned this year.

The next event will be with Reed in Partnership at a cost of living and wellbeing event in Harlow on the 23rd February 2023 at a venue to be agreed. Similar events have been held in Stevenage, Watford and Clacton.

James Tipler, Head of Financial Support and Service Delivery for Affinity Water said:

“If our customers ae struggling to pay it really is important to contact us sooner rather than later. There are a number of different ways in which we can help them which are set out clearly by following the links on our website. They may also want to pass on this advice to relatives, neighbours and friends who are struggling with the cost of living.

“This year we’re also supporting customers who are most in need with a one-off £50 payment towards their water bill. We are working through the details of eligibility, and we expect that some households including those on certain benefits, and some pensioners, will receive the credit from 1st April 2023 onwards. There will be no need for them to claim it as it will be credited automatically to their accounts and will show on their bill.

“We also want to advise our customers that with energy bills rising it is important that they think about how they can save water. We're often using energy, mostly to heat the water. By reducing the amount of water, we waste, we can help to reduce our energy use and bills, as well as reducing the impact on our local environment. Again, there are water saving tips on our website where customers can find out how to save water and save energy.”

Affinity Water’s Inclusive Services Engagement Manager, Liz Freitas added:

“We have participated in a number of cost-of-living events in our region to raise awareness of the support we can offer with reduced bill tariffs and the Priority Services Register and to also share water saving tips and free devices. It is a privilege to meet local residents who step forward to share with us their circumstances and this helps us to signpost to them how we could help, and we can provide a few free water saving gadgets too. If family, friends and neighbours are able to pass on to those struggling to pay that there is no stigma involved in asking for help and to tell them that we have bespoke payment plans that are designed to help them. But first, they do need to tell us that they are struggling and that can be a difficult first step for some people.”

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