· Company forecast thousands more people will need affordability support to over coming 12 months
· Targeted package of £65m to help those struggling to pay
Anglian Water is today announcing an unprecedented £65 million package of tailored affordability support for customers this year as the cost of living crisis bites – the largest ever offering from a water company.
The package offers a range of tailored services to support those in need. Discounted tariffs mean eligible customers can get up to 50 per cent off their water bill, plus the company also offers affordable payment plans, payment holidays in certain circumstances, and direct support through the Anglian Water Assistance Fund, which is specially designed to help to cover the cost of bills when people are going through the most challenging times.
The commitment, which comes as Anglian Water announces its full year results to March 2022, is part of a longer-term package that will see the water company set aside £232 million between 2020- 2025 to help those customers who need it most.
Last year, the company provided over 320,000 people with affordability support, but this is expected to increase by thousands this year, as customers struggle with rising inflation.
Anglian Water’s Director of Customer and Wholesale Services, Pete Holland said:
“We know this year is going to be incredibly challenging for a large number of our customers. We’re incredibly proud of the support provided over the last year but it is clear that the next 12 months are going be tougher, and we all need to take action.”
“The coming year will see us put forward the biggest package of support we’ve ever provided, meaning we can help even more people in a way that’s tailored to their individual circumstances. Whatever the circumstances, our message to customers is simple: if you’re struggling, please get in touch. The sooner we talk, the sooner we can help.”
The support package will also signpost customers to potential government benefits they may be able to claim. In 2021-22 alone, £1.7million of potential benefits were identified and highlighted to those who may qualify for extra help, with some customers receiving up to £3,000 of extra benefits following Anglian Water’s assessment.
Wendy, aged 79, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire benefited from Anglian Water’s ExtraCare service. Faced with a higher water bill, Wendy contacted Anglian Water’s customer care team to see what they could do. After analysing Wendy’s bills, the ExtraCare team noted that Wendy was entitled to additional housing benefit, worth around £200 every month.
Wendy said: “Money is incredibly tight for me at the moment. Whilst I have kept myself afloat over the last couple of years, the huge uplift in the cost of living has put me under considerable strain – both mentally and financially. That’s why an annual increase of £60 a year in my water bills caused me serious concern. It might not be a lot to most people, but when you haven’t been able to afford a new pair of shoes in over two years, it is. I can’t thank the Anglian Water team enough for the assistance they gave me in analysing my finances and finding out that I could be entitled to additional benefit. The team were so helpful and this will be life changing.”
Anglian Water is also supporting the Government’s Household Support Fund for those in financial hardship, distributing around £500,000 to those who are struggling most to pay their bills.
It provides additional support for customers in vulnerable circumstances through its Priority Services Register. This Register provides help to a wide range of people, from those with sight, hearing, or mobility difficulties, to parents with babies under 12 months old and those with long or short-term medical needs.
Customer service teams receive extensive bespoke training to support customers with a wide range of challenges. In addition to the above support, Anglian also partners with over 150 charities and organisations, including Kidney Care UK, Carers First and Scope, to provide tailored support and raise awareness of the help on offer
During the pandemic Anglian Water distributed a £1 million Positive Difference Fund, benefiting more than 100,000 people in the East of England through more than 160 community groups.