At a time when consumers are struggling with increasing living costs, Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and wastewater company, has entered into a long-term partnership with fintech Paylink Solutions. The new partnership demonstrates best practice within the water sector around understanding customer affordability and making it easier for customers to engage.
By using Paylink’s Embark application, Thames Water customers will be able to provide a breakdown of their circumstances so Thames can set up a sustainable payment plan based on their affordability. Customers will also be able to use open banking along with the ability to request a payment proposal for managing their water bills. Importantly, this will enable Thames Water to support more customers and to better support customers in financial difficulty.
Thames Water will also be able to apply its eligibility criteria for support packages such as its social tariff, WaterHelp, from the data received. By utilising Paylink’s automated benefits identification, which is integrated into Embark, their customers will also be able to see their benefits entitlement, all while providing their affordability within Embark.
Further specialist support will be available through Embark’s unique integration with free debt advice provider PayPlan. Customers needing free debt advice will be able to access PayPlan’s support through a wide variety of channels, including Live Chat or via a callback. With consent, PayPlan advisors will be able to see the income and expenditure – information provided to Thames Water and review a customer’s financial circumstances in real-time, making the process of accessing help as seamless as possible.
Embark is a system with many functionalities and Thames Water staff will have access to all elements of Embark. This isn’t limited to a digital-only experience and Embark can also be utilised by Thames Water staff when needing to capture this information on a call.
Nina White, Director of Financial Customer Care at Thames Water said: “We’re always looking for ways to improve our customer service and we’re pleased to be working with Paylink to create a journey for customers that allows us to understand their needs and access our wide range of support, as smoothly as possible. This is really important to us at this time as the cost of living continues to rise and we need to make it as easy as possible for our customers to engage with us.”
Andrew Alder, Director of Development and Partnerships at Paylink Solutions, said of the exciting new partnership: “We’re delighted to be working with Thames Water who have made a significant investment in supporting their staff and customers – as the cost of living and number of customers struggling financially increases, this couldn’t have been done at a better time.”
Thames Water offers a range of financial support schemes for its customers and currently supports over 300,000 households with discounted bills. Its WaterHelp scheme offers a 50% discount on customer’s bills if they are on a low income.
The company has recently increased the income eligibility threshold for this scheme to £17,005 in the Thames Valley and £21,749 in London. This is four months earlier than increases are normally applied to help more customers cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
About Thames Water
Thames Water is the UK’s biggest water and wastewater services provider. Our key workers provide essential services around the clock to 15 million customers across London, the Thames Valley and surrounding areas.
For an average of just over £1 a day for our households, we provide 2.6 billion litres of drinking water and safely remove 4.7 billion litres of wastewater every day.
We invested more than £1 billion again in 2020/21, leading to a total of £20 billion in the past 20 years, and we will continue to spend wisely on improving resilience, service and efficiency, as well as provide more support for customers in vulnerable circumstances.
We also have additional responsibilities to society and the natural environment. What we do and how we do it delivers significant public value, which is why we have ambitious plans to self-generate more of our own power, reduce our carbon emissions and increase biodiversity across our sites.
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