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02 December 21

Affinity Water offers help to its customers if they are struggling to pay their water bills

With cold weather predicted Affinity Water is advising its customers that they may be able to cut the cost of their household bills by finding out more about the affordability support that is available to them.

Affinity Water has to date supported over 7,000 customers with a payment break and over 10,000 with a flexible low payment arrangement. Another 2,000 customers have received help to budget and pay for their water through the Water Direct scheme.

Another 83,000 customers are eligible for the social tariff, LIFT. This provides customers with a discounted bill totalling £5.5m of financial support. In addition, the company also helps its LIFT customers apply for appropriate discounts on their waste charges with their supplier

  • The low income, fixed tariff (LIFT) is available to all customers who are earning less than £16, 385 a year, or who are currently claiming benefits; such as Universal Credit or Job Seeker's Allowance. Customers who are eligible for this tariff, will receive a fixed-price bill each year for clean water.
  • Customers can also help to keep their payments simple and affordable, by making smaller, monthly payments throughout the year.
  • Another payment scheme, WaterSure is aimed at metered customers who claim benefits and have a large family of 3 or more children (under the age of 19 and in full time education) or have a medical condition that requires the use of extra water. It works by capping the charges, so additional water usage is not chargeable.
  • For those already in arrears there is a Water Direct Scheme run with the Department for Work and Pensions where an amount is taken from their benefits directly to ensure that the debt does not escalate.

Affinity Water is also working with National Debt Line to ensure customers know how to get free advice and resources to help them deal with their debts. Customers can access National Debtline by phone, webchat, or get advice through the website: www.nationaldebtline.org/affinity-water. Links to the Affinity Water advice pages are here - www.affinitywater.co.uk/priority-services and www.affinitywater.co.uk/billing/struggling-to-pay.

There are now easy ways to talk about potential payment problems with the Company through WhatsApp messaging. There’s language assistance too, and a British Sign Language video interpreter, via the InterpretersLive! service, provided by Sign Solutions.

Liz Freitas, Affinity Water’s Customer Operations Inclusive Services Engagement Manager said: “We are helping over 100,000 customers to pay their bills through a range of different schemes we have launched to assist them. As the cold weather approaches, we know that customers become concerned about their winter household bills, so it is important for them to be aware that if they are struggling to pay their water bill they should reach out to us for help sooner rather than later. As the UK’s largest water only company and one that has close links to the communities, we serve in the South East of England we have devised a number of different measures that will help those in most financial need this Winter. Our chat services are easy to use and make us all that more approachable. There are specialised language services too”.

James Tipler Affinity Water’s Head of Billing and Debt Management explained: “Affinity Water provided help to its customers at the start of the Covid19 Pandemic. Over the past eighteen months we have been conscious how much more help our customers now need to pay their bills given that many will have been furloughed and others may have lost their jobs. By providing a range of help to pay options for our customers delivered in different ways but with the emphasise on partnership working with government agencies and charities we have created a safety net for them which will help families to be more resilient to the ups and downs of the British economy which is still in the grip of a pandemic. If customers are struggling with their water bills this winter please get in contact so we can provide help and advice.”

For further information please contact Kevin Barton on: news@affinitywater.co.uk

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