United Utilities extends helping hand to customers affected by COVID-19

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United Utiliites has announced it has changed criteria on one of its support schemes to help customers who have been affected financially by COVID-19.

The company’s ‘Back on Track’ scheme reduces water bills for customers on low incomes, who receive benefits or tax credits, and has now been extended to include customers whose income has been impacted by the coronavirus.

Jane Haymes, affordability manager at United Utilities, explained: “Many customers are finding it difficult to pay their water bill due to a change in their financial circumstances during the coronavirus crisis.

“In response, we’ve updated the criteria of our existing Back on Track scheme so that these customers can now apply to have their water bill reduced to the end of March 2021.”

The ‘Back on Track’ scheme calculates the amount the customer pays based on their existing income and expenditure. Customers complete an affordability assessment as part of the application process, and also need to provide evidence that they have either been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), are benefiting from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or have been made redundant.

Jane adds: “We would urge any customer who is struggling to pay to contact us to see how we can help, as there's a wide range of support available.”

United Utilities’ support schemes include:
• Help to pay – Customers receiving Pension Credit, and struggling to make payments, can apply to have their bills capped at an affordable amount.
• Payment matching plus – Under this scheme United Utilities matches payments for customers who have built up a lot of debt.  For every £1 the customer pays, United Utilities pays £1 too. After six months, for every £1 the customer pays, the water firm will pay £2. Customers who continue to make regular payments for two years will have the remainder of their debt cleared.
• Restart grant – This is a one-off payment from the company’s Trust Fund to help clear the debts for qualifying customers in real financial difficulty.
• WaterSure – Customers who have a water meter, receive benefits and use a lot of water, due to ill health or having a large family, can have their annual water bill costs capped.
• Universal Credit – Customers about to apply for Universal Credit can have their water bill payments delayed for up to eight weeks until their first UC payment arrives.
• Payment break – This scheme can help delay payments for an agreed period of time for customers struggling to pay their water bill due to losing their job or having to pay out for an unexpected household emergency.
• Water meters - A water meter can also reduce water bills and is fitted for free. Visit unitedutilities.com/meters for details.

For more information customers can call the affordability team at United Utilities on 0800 912 7247.