- Eligibility criteria
To be eligible for the Back on Track scheme you must:
1. Receive one of the benefits/tax credits shown in the table below OR have a household income of less than £21,000 a year if applying due to your income being affected by COVID-19 (see clause (3) below). As part of the application process we will ask you to either provide evidence of the benefits you receive or provide proof of your household income.
The table shows where to contact if you need to obtain replacement copies of the evidence required for your application.
|Name of benefit or tax credit||Evidence required||Who to contact|
||Contact your local Jobcentre Plus office or benefits office|
Tax credit helpline:
0345 300 3900
||Contact your local authority (council) for details|
0800 731 0469
As well as receiving one of the benefits or tax credits shown above you must either:
2. Be in arrears with previous years’ water charges;
3. Be able to demonstrate a change in circumstances due to COVID-19 that has resulted in a reduction in income impacting your ability to pay your water bill.
To be accepted onto the scheme you must:
(i) Complete an affordability assessment;
(ii) Agree to a declaration giving permission for United Utilities to validate your benefit receipt with third party organisations, and where specifically requested provide evidence of current benefit entitlement and/or household income; and
(iii) If applying through clause (3) set out above, provide credible documentary evidence that supports the statement that a change in circumstances due to COVID-19 has resulted in a reduction in household income. For example we would accept a letter from your employer confirming you have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), confirmation from HMRC that you are benefiting from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), a redundancy notification, or other similar documentation.
In addition to the above, you must also:
• Live at the address which is on your water bill.
• Agree to pay an affordable amount towards any outstanding water charges* as well as paying your new charges.
• Water supplied to your home is not used for:
• - watering a garden (other than by hand) by means of any apparatus; or
• - automatically replenishing a large pond or swimming pool.
*the contribution you will be asked to pay towards your outstanding water charges is subject to a minimum amount.
Wherever possible, customers will be expected to pay their water bill by Direct Debit or via application to the Department for Work and Pensions to pay their water charges direct from their benefits. Where this is not possible, we will set up an alternative payment plan for you.
If you stop making payments you will be removed from the scheme and automatically go back to the way you were charged before you qualified for the scheme.
United Utilities’ decision in relation to a person’s eligibility for the scheme will be final. We also reserve the right to:
• amend the eligibility criteria and to suspend or cancel the scheme at any time; and
• close the scheme to new customers at any given time.
What happens once I’ve been accepted onto the scheme? Once we have processed your application and received all necessary evidence of your eligibility, we will then send you a new bill. If you don’t have a meter, your bill will include charges from 1 April of the year which you apply and any arrears from previous bills. If you have a meter, your new tariff will be applied from the date of your last meter reading. Please note that this will not reduce any arrears from previous bills but we will help you to find a suitable way to pay for any outstanding amounts. If you have a water meter, we will make sure that you do not pay any more than you would have if you had been charged based on actual usage. We will check this by reading your meter.
How will I pay my bill? Wherever possible, customers will be expected to pay their water bill by Direct Debit or via application to the Department for Work and Pensions to pay their water charges direct from their benefits. Where this is not possible, we will set up an alternative payment plan for you. It’s really important that you keep to any agreed payment plan otherwise you will be removed from the scheme.
What if I stop making payments? If you stop making payments you will be removed from the scheme and automatically go back to the way you were charged before you qualified for the scheme. You will also be unable to reapply for the scheme until you have made regular payments for a period of 12 months.
How long will I receive help? You will qualify for the Back on Track scheme until your circumstances change and you no longer require financial support or until such time as the tariff ends. We may also contact you occasionally to check if you are still eligible for the scheme. You must reply to any requests to confirm your ongoing eligibility. If you do not, you will be removed from the scheme. If you are accepted on to the scheme due to COVID-19 (clause 3 above) you will only qualify for a reduced bill until 31st March 2021. After this date you will revert to your previous charges.
What if my circumstances change? You must inform us immediately if your financial circumstances change, for example your income changes because you get a job and are no longer entitled to receive benefits or tax credits. We will then check that you still meet the eligibility criteria and may ask you to complete another application containing your new financial details. We will then assess whether you are still eligible for the scheme and if you are on the correct band. You may also be eligible for one of our other assistance schemes. Please call us on 0800 072 6765.
What if I move home? Please let us know if you move home so we can update your details to make sure you continue to receive our Back on Track scheme at your new address. We’ll also check to see if you would be better off on the scheme depending on how much you will pay for your water services at your new home.