A project led by Southern Water which aims to find customers facing financial difficulties and help them get financial support has been awarded more than £600,000 of funding.
The cash boost from the Ofwat Innovation Fund will support an initial six-month scoping exercise, ahead of potential further investment later in the year.
The project is called Water4All, and Southern Water, with lead partner Sagacity have started working with data companies Equifax and Synectics Solutions to develop a joint approach to identifying customers who need help. Advizzo, Auriga, AgilityEco and Waterwise will also assist to maximise customers’ income, reduce their bills and lower their carbon footprint.
Rachel Ryan-Crisp, Southern Water’s Vulnerability Lead, said: “Water companies have specific initiatives aimed at supporting customers, but they urgently need help to better identify and support low-income and vulnerable households.
“Water4All, led by Southern Water, puts financially vulnerable customers at the heart of the solution. A consortium of leading multi-sector experts will use their knowledge and data to seek and serve those who need help most.
“Billing, affordability, fraud and benefits data will be used to identify eligible customers using cutting-edge modelling techniques, with priority households identified and engaged with.”
Anita Dougall, CEO, Sagacity, added: “Sagacity are excited to be the delivery lead for Southern Water’s innovative Water4All project funded by Ofwat. We’re delighted to be able to deploy our sophisticated technologies, data capability and industry know how, to proactively help vulnerable customers to reduce financial distress.
“Through the Water4All solution, we will make a significant difference to individuals navigating the cost-of-living crisis.”
More information will be made available on the Southern Water website as the project takes shape.
This number of companies involved raises great doubts as to how much money will trickle down to those who need help – hardly levelling up!
Wouldn’t it be better simply to dish out the £600,000 (plus “further investment later in the year”) straight to the people who need it?
Does this replace their longstanding Sewage4All scheme?
When all this money has been spent on various companies (don’t knock it, people will get short-term ,low-paid research jobs out of it!) and they have identified which households are in desperate need of assistance, how do they increase the ability of those households to pay their water bills?
Increase their wages? But their employers won’t do that!
Increase benefits? But the government won’t do that!
Increase pensions? See above!
So where else does our money come from?
This is a good initiative ,but it’s only a start. Without serious money going into actually raising incomes, it will just be an exercise in deception, convincing us that “something is being done, look at all the money we are spending on you!”
Is this a joke?