We know the recent coronavirus outbreak is having a real impact on families and communities, and for some, paying bills has become a challenge.
What we’re doing to help
If you need support during this difficult time, we’re here to help. We may be able to temporarily reduce or postpone your water bill payments for three months. We're calling this a 'flexible payment period'.
Who can apply for flexible payments?
We’re offering flexible payments to all our customers who’ve felt a significant financial impact because of the coronavirus outbreak.
We should be able to support you if:
- You need to stop work without pay, to either self-isolate or take care of children or a vulnerable family member
- You’ve been made redundant, or told to take unpaid leave or reduced pay (less than 80% of your normal pay) for a period of time
We’re unable to offer you flexible payments if:
- Your income has not been impacted due to the coronavirus outbreak, including if you’re continuing to receive benefits, allowances or a pension
- You’re employed and still receiving 80% or more of your normal pay, or you’re on furlough
- You’re self-employed and still largely working (80% or more)
How does it work?
You’ll need to decide if you want to reduce or pause your payments. We’ll then pause any scheduled payments on your account, and it’s up to you if you’d like to pay nothing, or make occasional payments to reduce your normal billing amount, and only pay what you can afford. Either way, the flexible payment period will last three months. After this time, any charges that were reduced or paused will be spread over your following payments:
- If you’re on a metered bill, your payments for the next 12 months will be adjusted. So when you flex your payments for three months, the outstanding cost will be spread across your next nine payments.
- If you’re on an unmetered bill (this means you don’t have a water meter), your payments for the rest of the billing year will be adjusted (April-March). So when you flex your payments for three months, the outstanding cost will be spread across all your payments until April next year.
So, if you apply for flexible payments, you’ll need to keep in mind your remaining bills will be slightly higher. Make sure you include this in your budget planning so you’re prepared for any increase you may see. You should also consider if the increase in your following payments would be difficult to manage, which may mean a temporary adjustment to your bill is unhelpful in the long run.
How do I apply?
If you understand how the flexible payments will work and you meet our eligibility criteria listed above, you can apply using our online form. We’ll check your eligibility as part of the application process.
We’re happy for you to apply for someone else.
You’ll need to have your account number to hand when you apply. This is a 10 or 12 digit number, and you’ll find it on the top of a bill or statement. If you don’t know what your account number is, we can help you find it – send us a message on Facebook or Twitter, or give us a call on 0800 980 8800 from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. We’re getting a lot of calls at the moment, so thanks for bearing with us if it takes us a while to get through.
What happens once I’ve applied?
We’ll process every eligible application and adjust your bill automatically if you’re successful. Here’s what you need to do to stay up to speed:
- Please keep making any payments due in the next ten working days. We’re working hard to help as many customers as we can, so we’ll need ten working days to process your application. This means if your next scheduled payment is due in the next ten working days, you’ll still need to pay it– but don’t worry, your flexible payment period will start from the following payment onwards. If you normally pay by direct debit, please don’t cancel your payments, we’ll do this for you when your flexible payment period starts.
- Check your online account in ten days to see the outcome of your application. In ten working days’ time, you'll be able to see live updates to your payment amounts. If your application has been successful, your payments will be automatically adjusted. You’ll see this in the ‘upcoming payments’ section of your online account – there’ll be no due payments shown. It’s easy to register for an online account if you don’t already have one, and you’ll always have access to the most up to date details of your payments.
- If you’ve opted to pay a reduced amount, make a payment when you are ready. If you normally pay by Direct Debit, we’ll pause your scheduled payments and restart them again after three months. This means it’s important you pay the reduced amounts by another method. We offer a variety of other ways to pay including online debit card payments, by bank transfer or mobile banking. You can also pay at a bank or post office if they’re are open and it’s safe to do so. For more details, please visit our guidance on how to pay your bill.
Once your flexible payment period is over, we’ll get in contact with you to let you know your payments have been changed, and to confirm your updated billing amount. The easiest and fastest way to keep up-to-date with your billing information is with an online account. You'll be able to see live updates to billing changes, so you won't need to hear from us to see when your payments have been paused, or your flexible payment period has finished.