VULNERABLE Yorkshire Water customers who are struggling with debts will receive extra support, thanks to a new partnership with Callcredit Information Group.
Yorkshire Water has around 2m bill paying customers, and 80,000 of these are more than three months late with their payments.
Leeds-based Callcredit, the consumer data and analytics firm, will help the company identify and support customers who are struggling to cope with the cost of living. Customers who potentially qualify for help will be transferred to a specialist Yorkshire Water team who, with consent from the customer on the call, will use Callcredit’s data to obtain a complete picture of the customer’s financial circumstances, to identify the support that could be available. It will help to identify customers who may be struggling with multiple bills and could be at risk of going into debt on their water bill. Yorkshire Water’s bad debt charge has increased from £12.1m in the 2008/09 financial year to £19.9m in 2014/15.
A Yorkshire Water spokesman added: “Throughout this period we have looked to support vulnerable customers and the financial support we offer has grown from £2m in 2008/09 to £8m in 2014/15.”
Tim Sheer, the head of billing and collections at Yorkshire Water, said: “Yorkshire Water customers already benefit from having some of the lowest water bills in the UK. However, we know the cost of living is a real concern for some of our customers and we want to do what we can to support those who are struggling. We have a number of schemes aimed at helping vulnerable customers and those struggling with debt and we recently launched our new Water Support tariff, which is designed to help to prevent customers on low incomes getting into debt in the first place. Our new partnership with Callcredit will help us to identify the customers most in need of support and it will allow us to tailor a payment method suitable to their circumstances.”
The average Yorkshire Water bill this year is £360, compared with a national average of £385.
The spokesman added: “We have the lowest debt to turnover in the industry making sure bills stay low. We work very hard to keep our arrears as low as possible whilst identifying and supporting vulnerable customers.”