Southern Water has noted an increase in residents on the Isle of Wight struggling to pay their water bills, with the number of customers signing up to its affordability scheme and tariffs rising by 5 percent in the last year.
Even before lockdown the company, which provides water and wastewater services across the island, offered a range of tariffs and payment support schemes, however, it is currently supporting the highest number of customers ever in light of the impacts of Covid-19 and lockdown.
Rachel Ryan-Crisp, Vulnerability Lead for Southern Water said:
“We know that Covid-19 and the impacts of lockdown have been tough on many of our customers. In Debt Awareness Week (22 – 28 March) we really want to highlight our message – “please do not suffer in silence if you’re struggling to pay your water bills.”
Southern Water offers four payment schemes designed to offer help in different situations for our customers who are struggling financially.
- WaterSure – caps your bills if you have a water meter
- Water Direct – Jobcentre Plus may pay us directly from your benefits if you need help budgeting
- NewStart – could help you pay off your debt
- Essentials – provides between 20%-90% discount on your future bills depending on your household income
“We have certainly found that the Essentials scheme has supported many this last year, particularly since we relaxed the eligibility criteria. But the key message is that if you are struggling in any way please pick up the phone and we can discuss all options. There is always something we can do to help.
“Southern Water also guides people towards StepChange and Citizens Advice. My team are speaking to more and more people who are falling into debt who haven’t been there before and may not know what to do and all other options available to them – these organisations can help them sort their finances out more generally.”
If you or anyone you know wants any support at all please visit www.southernwater.co.uk/account/help-paying-your-bill to complete an easy ‘Financial Assistance’ form, or call the team on 0800 027 0363.