Anglian Water turns on the tap with £1m fund for communities

COVID-19: Our members taking responsible business action

“We’re doing all we can to extend our support to that workforce too, as we know how much we will need them when we emerge from the pandemic”

Peter Simpson, Anglian Water Chief Executive

Business in the Community (BITC) member Anglian Water has announced a £1m positive difference fund, created to support community organisations.

This new fund builds on extra care direct-support packages available to assist families who have been financially hit by COVID-19. 

Community support fund 

Communities in the Anglian Water region are to receive a cash boost to fight the impact of COVID-19, after the water company’s owners backed plans to establish a £1m community support fund. 

The Anglian Water positive difference fund will be distributed through a locally appointed partner that has expertise in getting money quickly to areas in which it is most needed. 

Half of the fund will immediately be made available to support community organisations on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus, with a further 50% released to meet emerging needs later in the year. 

Organisations such as food banks, outreach programmes and those helping the most vulnerable will be supported by the positive difference fund.  

Direct support for customers 

The water company, which looks after about six-million customers and the largest region in England and Wales, has already stepped up its efforts to directly support customers. The positive difference fund is in addition to an existing £1m assistance fund that customers who struggle to pay their bills can access. 

Other support, available under the company’s extra care banner, includes discounted tariffs alongside flexible and affordable payment schemes. More than 300,000 customers each year already receive help through this scheme. 

Looking after colleagues 

Anglian Water will continue its apprenticeship recruitment programme, arranging virtual interviews, and resulting in 80 jobs being offered. These will start in October. 

All existing job offers and start dates will be honoured and full salaries paid, even if new employees are not yet able to begin work. 

An employee assistance fund to support colleagues experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was launched on 23 April.  

The company is offering flexible working to employees who need to support vulnerable family members without any risk to their salary. 

Casual or fixed-term contracts that are due to end have been extended to 31 May, giving these workers an additional buffer. 

Backup for the supply chain 

Steps taken to support the supply chain include: 

  • reducing the time taken to make payments, releasing more than £5m in March alone 
  • helping to support and advise many small- and medium-size suppliers with access to advanced procurement opportunities 
  • supporting staff within some supply chain companies who have been hit with pay reductions by their employer. 

The company helps customers identify if they may be eligible for benefits they are not claiming. Anglian Water has already signposted customers to a potential £4.5m of unclaimed aid, with the average amount that customers may be entitled to exceeding the cost of the average water bill. 

It is adding customers to its priority services register faster than ever before, meaning they will get tailored help and special assistance should they need it. 

Peter Simpson, Anglian Water’s Chief Executive, said: “This business is built on the communities it serves, so it’s absolutely right we extend our support back to them during this time of need.  

“As key workers, we’ve so far been able to keep all our colleagues employed, and we’ll do everything we can to maintain that. We know many thousands will not be so fortunate and we sincerely hope this fund can go some way to helping them.  

“We employ around five thousand people, but more than double that number work in our supply chain. We’re doing all we can to extend our support to that workforce too, as we know how much we will need them when we emerge from the pandemic. 

“I’ve been humbled by the, sometimes heroic, efforts of both the Anglian Water workforce, and those all across the region we look after, as they simply try to keep our networks running and our communities safe. We will continue to do all we can to support them.”