There has been a record surge in the number of Thames Water customers receiving money off their bills as part of a major drive to help individuals and families in need of extra support.
In the first three months of the year, more than 14,000 households have applied to be on a new social tariff which will halve their bill – an increase of more than 20 per cent on previous numbers.
The company is doing more than ever for people living in vulnerable circumstances by developing new relationships with those struggling to pay, as well as building partnerships with a range of organisations and charities, including Age UK. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Thames Water Trust Fund, which donates essential household appliances to customers in need.
Customers are at the heart of Thames Water’s 2020-25 business plan, with the company set to cut average bills by 1.3 per cent while aiming to increase the 76,000 people currently on social tariffs to 200,000. It is also rapidly expanding numbers on its priority services register to 410,000, up from the current level of 72,000, so it can provide dedicated support in emergencies.
Kelly Macfarlane, Thames Water customer experience director, said: “We’ve now spoken to over one million customers in putting together our business plan and the message back was clear that we need to be offering extra support to those customers in our region in vulnerable circumstances.
“I’m incredibly proud that we’re able to offer such a comprehensive range of support options, and empower our teams to tailor each of them to meet personal needs. This is an important moment in our rich history and I’m excited to be at the helm of accelerating this critical work.”
The UK’s largest water company recently started directly billing council tenants who had previously paid their local authority. As a direct result of this move, 14,000 customers on low incomes have applied for Thames Water’s WaterSure Plus tariff. This has been developed with other neighbouring water companies, making it easier for customers to apply.
Thames Water has also developed a range of partnerships as part of its ambition to see an increase in customers on its priority service register – a list of those who need bottled water delivered to their home or extra care should there be an interruption to supply. A recent joint letter with UK Power Networks highlighting an easier way for people to sign up to both companies’ registers saw an extra 4,000 join each one.
Thames Water is also working with Thames Valley Police, Age UK, NHS trusts and other organisations who will speak to people they work with to inform them about the benefits of being on the register.
Kelly said: “Being on our priority services register really provides peace of mind for many customers in vulnerable circumstances, as well as their friends and family. The organisations we’ve partnered with work with people in vulnerable circumstances every day so are in the best position to share the benefits of being on our register, which I’m delighted to confirm is growing in number by the day.”