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New helpline for concerned families seeking support for struggling relatives

Friends and family can find out about financial assistance schemes available to relatives struggling with their water bills thanks to a new helpline launched today by United Utilities.

Louise Beardmore, United Utilities’ customer services and people director, explained: “We offer a wide range of financial assistance for people in need and we want to make sure they are accessing it.

“Sometimes people are embarrassed or otherwise unable to ask for help for themselves so this helpline gives those closest to them the opportunity to find out what support is on offer on their behalf.”

On the other end of the new Freephone Friends and Family Helpline number (0800 107 8862) are members of United Utilities’ dedicated affordability team who are specially trained to handle sensitive issues.

“While we can’t divulge confidential information about the friend or family member who is having difficulties, what the caller will receive is clear information about the schemes and support we have available to customers who are finding it difficult to pay their bill and how this can be accessed or applied for,” said Louise.

In January 2018 and January 2019 on statistically the most depressing day of the year, known as Blue Monday, United Utilities held its two Affordability Summits. The aim of these is to bring together organisations from across the region, who deal with customers in challenging or difficult circumstances, to discuss what more could be done to support those in need.

At this year’s summit, a ‘friends and family’ helpline was suggested by debt advisors as a new way of getting the right support to people who may not normally pick up the phone themselves to find out what financial help is available.

Louise added: “We’re constantly challenging ourselves to improve the scale and effectiveness of the support we offer. We’re committed to continuing our collaboration with the debt advice community to help prevent people getting into problem debt in the first place or, if they’re already there, to help them find a manageable and affordable way out of debt and back on track.”

The helpline is available to anyone with friends or relatives who are customers of the North West water company.

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