Water company wins top award for helping customers out of debt

United Utilities has won Water Team of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony for its efforts in helping customers out of debt.

The Credit Strategy Utilities and Telecoms Awards recognises best practice in one of the biggest gatherings of utilities and telecoms collections professionals, drawn from across the energy, water and telecoms sectors.

The water company took home top prize for its work around helping its most vulnerable customers get back on track with their water payments. It’s Town Action Plan has already helped thousands of customers to tackle their debt through a range of tailored support schemes.

Michelle Atkinson, head of income at United Utilities said: “We’re absolutely delighted to win this award. Our Town Action Plan is helping to improve the lives of thousands of people across the North West and it’s great to receive this recognition.

“Although we offer more financial support than ever before, awareness of our assistance schemes was low. We realised the best way to help those customers who needed it the most to visit them in their own homes and the Town Action Plan was born out of that idea. Speaking to customers directly in their own homes allowed us to understand why these customers were struggling to pay their bills and offer tailored support to get them out of their debt.”

Since the scheme was set up in 2016, the company has avoided 10,000 customers being outsourced to Debt Collection Agencies (DCAs), agreed payment plans for 6,000 customers. In addition to 100 new Priority Services customers joining the 35,000 already registered for the scheme.

“Where DCAs are measured solely on cash collection, we’re now measuring success on the number of support tariffs set up and accounts resolved, helping customers move out of debt and into the payment habit,” said Michelle. “So far, our scheme has covered 16 towns, with more planned for the next 12 months.”