Utilities join forces with Citizens Advice to provide further support for customers in need

13 Oct 2022

United Utilities and Electricity North West have joined forces with Citizens Advice Manchester, to support customers in need this winter.

Previously, customers who needed extra support had to register their details separately with the water company and power network operator, but now thanks to a pilot project with Citizen’s Advice Manchester, customers only need to register once to benefit from support from both water and energy.

The new register combines United Utilities’ priority services register and Electricity North West’s extra care register to make it quicker and easier for customers to share their details via Citizens Advice. Citizens Advice can then let both utility networks know about any additional needs they have – or support they require – in the case of an electricity or water outage.

The extra support scheme is completely free and aims to provide additional support for those who might be elderly, be in ill health, have a disability or mental health problems and those customers who may have financial worries or language barriers. 

Priority Services Manager at United Utilities Michelle Mather explained: “Thousands of customers were added to our register during the pandemic, the number continues to grow and we currently have 265,000 people registered in the North West. We want to make it as straightforward as possible for customers to register and have been working closely with Electricity North West for a few years.

“The new combined register will save time and effort as it provides a one-stop shop service and we’re looking forward to trialling it with Citizens Advice Manchester.”

Jill Hendry, Welfare Innovation Manager from Electricity North West, added: “This is a potentially ground-breaking move for both ourselves and United Utilities which makes the customer experience of receiving extra care from our teams even easier.

“We’ve previously carried out trials before sharing customer data with United Utilities and a shared register is something we have been working towards. We’re excited the trial is underway and we all believe a more detailed, shared register will save time and effort as it becomes a hub for key services that utilities provide.”

Rosi Avis from Citizens Advice Manchester explained how the new service will help them: “This joined up approach will enable our advisers to streamline the work they do with people coming to us for help, connecting them to as much priority support as possible in one intervention. Making this process quicker and easier allows us to help even more people at a time where we know many people are worried about their energy supply.”

The combined online register is being provided by Auriga, a charity-owned business which offers services to people in vulnerable circumstances and those in financial difficulty.

David Woakes from Auriga added: “Being able to work alongside United Utilities and Electricity North West to develop our model to support more individuals in the area is something we are very proud of. Enabling individual access to registration can prove to be critical and we look forward to further support as our joint solution develops.”

Customers living in vulnerable circumstances can also sign up for additional services at www.enwl.co.uk/extracare or www.unitedutilities.com/priorityservices.