In this guest blog, Mark Grice – External Relationships Manager at Severn Trent Water – explains how the company is helping thousands of its customers overcome debt and other financial troubles through a growing range of support schemes.
We introduced the Big Difference Scheme to help support our customers who find themselves struggling to pay their bills, whatever their circumstances may be. Even though we have the lowest combined water and sewerage charges in Britain, certain situations may mean paying our bill is a concern for some of customers, so we want to help.
The Big Difference Scheme is designed for absolutely anyone who is struggling to pay their bills. We know that anyone can struggle, regardless if you are working or not. Whatever your situation is, you could qualify for a reduction in charges of between 10 -90 per cent of our average bills.
Lower bills – life changing advice
In the last 12 months we’re really proud to have more than trebled the number of customers receiving help through the Big Difference Scheme which is absolutely fantastic! We’re now helping more than 50,000 customers with their bills and taking away some of that struggle they once had.
We work closely with Citizens Advice and Severn Trent Trust Fund, so you could receive a reduction on your bills and life changing debt advice. We know that water debt may only be the tip of the iceberg for some.
We want to reach out and make sure our customers know that we’re here to help and make sure that they’re aware of the range of support we have on offer. Asking for help isn’t always the easiest thing to do, so we have a team of co-ordinators who go into local communities and work with housing providers. They also attend food banks and community events. So please, if you see any of our team out and about – they’d love to tell you about the help you could get.
A listening ear
Money problems, suffering with mental wellbeing or going through a difficult life event, can be an extremely worrying time. So, we’ve created a Care and Assistance team who are specially trained to support customers and provide a personal service to those who need it. The specialist team have received training from the Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid training to support them and enable them to assist our customers with whatever is troubling them. We’re delighted to be launching this customer support 24/7, so people can contact us at any time of the day or night, through a range of channels including web chat, social media, telephone and email.
Wiping the slate clean
On top of all this, the Severn Trent Trust Fund, who are an independent charity providing financial assistance to those most in financial difficulty, have been able to assist nearly 3,800 customers either by a grant to help clear water arrears or in some circumstances through the purchase of essential household items.
CCWater has worked with every water company in England and Wales to help them launch social tariff schemes that can reduce water bills for low-income customers. Check out our guide to see if you might be eligible for assistance.