As the impact of COVID-19 continues to bite, North West water firm United Utilities is extending its financial support schemes to help even more people struggling with their bill.
Previously customers had to be on certain benefits or tax credits and in arrears with their water bill to be eligible for debt assistance.
Now United Utilities has updated its “Back on Track” scheme specifically to help the growing numbers of householders who have been financially affected by COVID-19. The existing criteria for the scheme has now been extended to support customers with a household income of less than £21,000.
Jane Haymes, affordability manager at United Utilities said: “COVID-19 continues to impact many of our customers across the North West, making it difficult for them to pay their bills.
“Now can be the most worrying time of the year for those on low incomes, when post-Christmas bills start to land. With the added financial impact of the pandemic, this year is worse than ever for many struggling families.
“We hope this change encourages even more of our customers to get in touch and see if we can reduce their bill.”
The scheme has a number of tiers and the amount customers pay depends upon their existing income and expenditure. Customers complete an affordability assessment as part of the application process and need to provide evidence their income has been affected by COVID-19 such as being furloughed or made redundant.
Jane added: “We work closely with money advice services such as StepChange, Money Advice Trust and Turn2Us. It’s really important that people know the support is out there if they ask for it and we would urge anyone with money worries to get in touch, either with us or with one of these services.”
United Utilities is already helping more than 118,000 households across the North West with their water bills. In the five years up to 2025 the company has committed £71m into financial support schemes and is reducing bills for by an average of 13.5 per cent.