Stepping up to support customers

23.01.2014

Northumbrian Water and StepChange Debt Charity are launching a new partnership to help support customers who may be facing financial difficulties.

The partnership, which is an industry first, will help customers access free, confidential debt advice and solutions and starts during National Debt Awareness Week (January 20 – 26).

In teaming up with the UK’s largest debt charity the water supplier recognises that water arrears may be a sign of a wider problem that StepChange Debt Charity will be able to help with.

In making a referral to the charity, Northumbrian Water is committed to understanding the customer’s whole situation and will give time for the customer to work with StepChange to achieve an action plan and debt solution.

Ian Donald, Customer Services Director for Northumbrian Water, said: “We strive to provide first class customer service at all times. We recognise that sometimes life’s ups and downs mean that some customers may find themselves in a challenging financial situation. Working with StepChange, we are able to support our customers to access the charity’s expert and impartial free advice.

“Having seen the brilliant work that StepChange does and the incredible life changing difference they make to those they help, we are really proud to be working in partnership with them to support our customers.”

Andrea Cook, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water Northern, said: “We welcome the partnership between StepChange Debt Charity and Northumbrian Water. By working with an independent charity that are experts about debt matters, the water company is taking a very positive step forward in supporting customers who may be facing financial difficulties.”

While StepChange Debt Charity has received referrals from other utility providers in the past, Northumbrian Water is the charity’s first true partner in the industry. The water company supports the charity via Fair Share Contribution. Fair Share means the creditor rather than the debtor pays for debt advice, allowing the charity to operate independently of taxpayer support.

Previously known as Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), StepChange has over 20 years′ experience of helping people become debt free. The charity has helped over 2 million people deal with problem debt in that time and offer a range of services and solutions to suit every situation.

For more information contact Mike Chipchase on 0191 301 6720

Notes to editors - The number of people seeking help for debt problems in the North East has increased, according to figures from StepChange Debt Charity. Last year, 6,464 North East residents contacted the charity’s helpline, up from 4,658 in 2012, an increase of 39 per cent.

The charity’s figures show people contacting the charity from the North East are struggling to make ends meet, and have, on average, just £9 left each month after covering their essential household bills.

Last year, people from the North East who contacted the charity’s helpline owed an average of £13,354 in unsecured debt.

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