South East Water is among the first utilities to be part of a national pilot project helping customers with debt issues by signposting them to a one-stop shop for long-term financial solutions.

The company – which provides tap water to 2.2 million customers in parts of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire – has signed up to the Money and Pensions Service’s Money Adviser Network which simplifies the process to put customers in need in touch with free, regulated debt advice.

Its aim is to help those in immediate payment difficulties find long term solutions and is part of a nationwide strategy to help people struggling with financial wellbeing.

The scheme works by using technology to simplify the process of putting customers in need of expert advice in touch with independent advisers quickly and allows customers to share their financial information easily and confidentially online.

Andy Clowes, Head of Customer Experience and Strategy at South East Water, said “This will really help our teams to be able to refer customers to funded debt advice agencies when they are struggling with finances or debt. It is an ideal solution for providing our customers with a great service, quickly and simply now and in the future.”

The pilot is testing three great new innovations:

  • A virtual contact centre –  linking customers to the agency with capacity to give immediate support there and then
  • Using open data – with open banking solutions, validation of the customer’s financial position will be simpler and will speed up the process of understanding their financial position
  • Improved creditor feedback – technology will support providing more updates and engagement with the customer through the debt advice journey.

Andy added: “South East Water is doing all it can to support its customers in the current climate and this is an additional way of ensuring they get the support they need when they need it most.

“We are confident that this referral process supported by StepChange, Money Advice Trust and Citizens Advice will give our customers the chance to obtain the support they need to get back on track in a way that suits their circumstances.”

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