North West water firm backs CCW Vulnerability Manifesto
United Utilities has backed a bid by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) to make sure more vulnerable people access help at times of need – such as during the COVID pandemic.
The North West firm is urging people to join its Priority Services Register or seek help if they’re struggling paying their water bill.
In the past year, as the company has ramped up efforts to support customers during lockdown, United Utilities’ has relieved struggling households of more than £20m of potential debt.
CCW has launched a Vulnerability Manifesto to help remove the barriers preventing some customers getting practical help accessing services or during unexpected problems with their water supply.
The consumer watchdog also published its Water for All report into affordability and vulnerability, showing how the water industry supports households facing financial hardship.
United Utilities recently topped more than 100,000 customers on its Priority Services Register, more than any other water firm in England and Wales.
It is also the only company to offer every one of the seven key support measures identified in the Water for All report, which singles several United Utilities initiatives out as examples of good practice - its awareness campaigns, its friends and family helpline, its help creating a new North West Hardship Hub and its collaboration with other regional utilities.
Customer services and people director Louise Beardmore said it had never been more important for water companies to reach out and help people.
“This is a hugely worrying time for many people and we can help, whether it’s taking a bit of extra care when delivering people’s water services, helping out when times are tough financially, or sharing our expertise. We know a lot of people in the North West are struggling financially due to COVID restrictions so would encourage our customers to get in touch with us if they are having difficulties paying their water bill, so we can help.
“The single most important thing you can do for yourself, or a friend or a family member who needs special consideration due to age, ill health or disability, is to find out about our Priority Services Register. All water companies have one. People on the register get extra help if, for example, their water supply goes off for any reason. It couldn’t be easier to sign-up.
“There are additional services tailored to the needs of those on the register, and through our partnership with Electricity North West we can ensure you are added to their Priority Services Register too.”
You can find out more help and information on the company’s accessible website, www.unitedutilities.com