Priority services assist customers who may find they need extra help. This could be because of an illness, disability, financial difficulties or language barriers.

All water companies in England and Wales have schemes which allow customers to register for free additional support so that whatever their circumstances they have appropriate access to water and sewerage services.

Anyone can register

The help available may be of most use to people who:

  • Have limited mobility or are unable to leave their property;
  • Have a sight, speech, hearing or cognitive impairment such as dementia, learning difficulties or English is not their first language;
  • Have a serious illness;
  • A medical need for water, such as dialysis patients or to take regular medication;
  • Have a mental health condition; or
  • Another reason as to why they may benefit from the additional help.

What help is available

Examples of available assistance include:

  • Password scheme – register a password that the water company will use if they need to call at your property.
  • Employee identity check to help customers identify that the person at the door is a genuine water company employee.
  • Nominated contact – register for a relative, friend or carer to also be contacted about a bill or water emergency.
  • Help with reading your water meter.
  • Emergency water supply – if you have no water and cannot get to a collection point or need it for medical reasons.
  • Large print documents.
  • Braille documents.
  • E-mail contact.
  • Documents on audio tape/CD/MP3.
  • Text relay.
  • Alternative language documents.
  • Interpreter services.
  • Welsh language services.
  • Water efficiency audit – to check if you can save water and save money.

Limited mobility or unable to leave home

Knock and Wait – you can ask for the company to give you longer to answer the door.

Password Scheme – you can register a password so that you can be sure that the person at the door is a genuine employee of the water company.

Emergency water supply – you can register for the water company to deliver an emergency supply of water in the event of supplies being unexpectedly interrupted if you would find it difficult to get to a collection point. You don’t have to wait for your supply to be interrupted to register for this service, be prepared and register now.

Help reading your water meter – if you cannot read your meter in its present location you can ask for it to be moved or read for you more often by the company.

Home visits – you can ask for a water company representative to visit you at home to discuss your bill, help if you are struggling to pay or any priority services you need.

If you are struggling to use your water appliances such as taps in the kitchen or bathroom, you should contact your local social services to be put in contact with an occupational therapist who can advise on any aids/equipment which may make it easier for you.

Mental Health

Many water companies’ employees have had training from the mental health charity Mind to help them understand the support people facing mental health problems need. In particular, the companies recognise that sometimes people facing a mental health problem can struggle to pay their bills and may fall into debt and need support from the company. If this happens to you, the company can help. Contact the company to explain your situation and they will be able to tell you what help they can provide.

Nominated contact – e.g. friend, relative or carer. If you have someone who helps you manage your bills, you can register for them to receive copies of your bills.

If you would also like someone to be contacted on your behalf if the company need to contact you regarding a water matter then let the company know.

Password Scheme – you can register a password so that you can be sure that the person at the door is a genuine employee of the water company.

Emergency water supply – you can register for the water company to deliver an emergency supply of water in the event of supplies being unexpectedly interrupted if you would find it difficult to get to a collection point. You don’t have to wait for your
supply to be interrupted to register for this service, be prepared and register now.

Home visits – you can ask for a water company representative to visit you at home to discuss your bill, help if you are struggling to pay or any priority services you need.

Serious illness

Water companies recognise that sometimes people facing a serious illness can struggle to pay their bills and may fall into debt and need support from the company. If this happens to you the company can help. Contact the company to explain your situation and they will be able to tell you what help they can provide.

Nominated contact – e.g. friend, relative or carer. If you have someone who helps you manage your bills and/or if you would like someone to be contacted on your behalf if the company need to contact you regarding a water matter then let the company know.

Emergency water supply – you can register for the water company to deliver an emergency supply of water in the event of supplies being unexpectedly interrupted if you would find it difficult to get to a collection point. You don’t have to wait for your supply to be interrupted to register for this service, be prepared and register now.

Accessible communications

If you have sight, speech, hearing impairment, dyslexia or dyspraxia, learning difficulties, or if English is not your first language. You can register your preference for how the company communicates with you.

Help understanding your water bill – you can ask the company to call you to discuss the bill with you before your bill is sent.

Nominated contact – e.g. friend, relative or carer. If you have someone who helps you manage your bills and/or if you would like someone to be contacted on your behalf if the company need to contact you regarding a water matter then let the company know.

Home visits – you can ask for a water company representative to visit you at home to discuss your bill, help if you are struggling to pay or any priority services you may need.

Personalised call assistance e.g. Speaking slower/giving longer thinking/response time- you can register your needs with the company.

Large print documents – you can register your needs with the company.

Braille documents – you can register your needs with the company.

Documents on CD or Audio – you can register your needs with the company.

Specific background colour documents – you can register your needs with the company.

Text phone/Text Relay/Minicom – you can register your needs with the company.

Sign language home visits – you can ask for a water company representative to visit you at home to discuss your bill, help if you are struggling to pay or any priority services you need.

Alternative language bills/documents – you can register your needs with the company.

Interpreter services – you can register your needs with the company.

Cognitive impairement

Cognitive Impairment such as a stroke or brain injury, a mental health problem, dementia, substance misuse or confusion because of an illness or the treatment of it.

A lasting power of Attorney, Deputy or Benefits Appointee – Advise the company if you are one of these representatives of the customer so that they can update the customers account.

Nominated contact – e.g. friend, relative or carer. If you have someone who helps you manage your bills, you can register for them to receive copies of your bills. If you would also like someone to be contacted on your behalf if the company need to contact you regarding a water matter then let the company know.

Password Scheme – you can register a password so that you can be sure that the person at the door is a genuine employee of the water company.

Personalised call assistance e.g. Speaking slower/giving longer thinking/response time- you can register your needs with the company.

Home visits – you can ask for a water company representative to visit you at home to discuss your bill, help if you are struggling to pay or any priority services you may need.

Emergency water supply – you can register for the water company to deliver an emergency supply of water in the event of supplies being unexpectedly interrupted if you would find it difficult to get to a collection point. You don’t have to wait for your supply to be interrupted to register for this service, be prepared and register now.

Dialysis patients

Early notifications of planned water interruptions – water companies provide extra help if you need dialysis at home. They will contact you as soon as possible if they need to turn off your water supply in an emergency, such as burst water main, and try to time any planned shut-offs, so they don’t happen on the day of your dialysis. If they absolutely must shut the water off on your dialysis day, they will contact you as far in advance as they can, in your preferred way, to let you know and will try to set up extra help and support.

Emergency water supply – you can register for the water company to deliver
an emergency supply of water in the event of supplies being unexpectedly
interrupted if you need a supply for medical reasons such as dialysis at home.

 

Register for assistance

Contact your water company to find out more or to register for the assistance.

Other industries such as energy, telecoms and transport also offer additional assistance (pdf).

Other helpful organisations

Lasting power of attorney

Companies also need to be made aware if you have a lasting power of attorney, Deputy or Benefits Appointee so that they can update the account and take appropriate action.  See how the Mental Capacity Act safeguards people with a cognitive impairment.

The UK Regulators Network provides a useful power of attorney guide on supporting customers who do not make their own decisions.