Water help for customers affected by Covid-19 welcomed by Lib Dems

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has welcomed the renewal of financial support by regional water supplier United Utilities for Oldham customers suffering financially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Councillor Sykes said: “At this time of rising unemployment and financial uncertainty, many people in Oldham will be struggling to meet their bills. Any help from utility companies to ease their budget is very welcome.

Howard Sykes

“The Oldham Liberal Democrats have always been concerned about poverty issues in our borough. We have campaigned on food, fuel, period and, most recently, clothing poverty and over five years ago we raised the issue of water poverty in a motion we took to a meeting of the full council in July 2015.

“Liberal Democrat Councillors then hosted a seminar later that same month, where senior staff from United Utilities outlined their support schemes to thirty professionals from a range of local agencies. Participants also received a bespoke handbook that we jointly produced about these schemes, and this booklet was later sent out to Councillors and one hundred and twenty local agencies.”

Councillor Sykes added: “Sadly, despite our call to the Conservative Government to recognise water poverty, five years on they have failed to do so. The Oldham Liberal Democrats would be happy to work again with United Utilities to take the message out once more that help is available to water customers affected by Covid-19.”

United Utilities offers the following help for customers in financial difficulties:

  • Back on Track – to reduce water bills for customers on low incomes, benefits or tax credits, and to establish an affordable payment plan
  • Help to Pay – to cap bills for customers receiving Pension Credit
  • Payment matching plus – where United Utilities matches the payments of heavily-indebted customers made to an agreed regular plan pound-for-pound
  • A Restart grant – a one-off payment to help clear customers in real financial difficulty
  • WaterSure – to cap the bills of customers with a water meter, where they have a larger family or use more water because of a health condition
  • Universal Credit – applicants for Universal Credit can apply to have their bills delayed for eight weeks until they are in receipt of benefit
  • Payment breaks – customers in difficulties can ask for a payment break

More information can be found at
https://www.unitedutilities.com/my-account/your-bill/difficulty-paying-your-bill/,o r customers can call the United Utilities affordability team on 0800 912 7247.

For some customers who are low water users a water meter can also reduce bills and it is fitted for free. More details can be found at www.unitedutilities.com/meters

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