We all need a bit of extra help now and then. For some of us, this is a short-term need, when we have just come out of hospital or had a new baby. Some of us – those who are disabled or with long-term health problems – need a bit of extra help all the time.

That’s why water companies have Priority Services Registers. Once water companies know which of their consumers need extra help (even if it is only for a short time), they can target that support if the water goes off, if information is needed in braille or if someone doesn’t like answering the door to strangers.

Only 42% of consumers are aware of this help and we don’t think this is enough. Our Water Matters report (pdf) also found that while Black-African customers have higher than average engagement in water company activity, it is significantly lower for other minority ethnic customer groups. We believe that companies need to develop an understanding of the needs of these groups, so that they can improve engagement where necessary. They also need to make sure all of their consumers are aware of their Priority Services Register, and get more people signed up. We will play our part too.

To deliver our campaign, we will:

  • Ask Governments in England to improve information-sharing across departments and make sure water companies and regulators can access official data about who needs help.
  • Get other consumer champions to join us in our call for change, such as Citizens Advice (CA), CA Cymru and National Energy Action.
  • Work in collaboration with others for easier routes for consumers to sign up for and manage the support they need across sectors.
  • Develop a bespoke campaign identity that combines impactful design with a cohesive narrative that resonates with its intended audience and supports the objective above.
  • Use our influence with water companies to sharpen their focus on raising consumer awareness of the help available, and monitor the number of people signed up for extra help by amplifying the messages in our Vulnerability Manifesto. This includes the need to re-engage with communities as participating partners to develop an understanding of the communities’ needs.
  • Target our own and water companies’ communications to sections of society who would benefit from knowing about the registers, including getting the message to consumers when their water supply goes off unexpectedly. We will make sure our information is inclusive and therefore accessible to all, for example by making it available in several languages.
  • Increase our ‘on the ground’ visibility after major water supply incidents, by using our local networks and techniques such as research to reach out to those consumers who may need extra help.

As a result, we want to see:

  • Consumer awareness of the priority services register increases to 55% by 2024 and to 75% by the end of 2030.
  • The number of consumers signed up to companies’ Priority Services Registers increases to 6% by 2024 – a milestone towards their overall performance commitment requirement of 7% by 2025.