Water customer financial support requests still growing, but slowing in pandemic’s second year
30 May 2022
The second year of economic challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has seen the number of Victorian customers in hardship programs continue to increase, but at a slower rate.
New data from the Essential Services Commission shows that, compared to April 2020, the total number of customers in hardship programs has risen by 47 per cent (to 7,067 customers) in metropolitan Melbourne, and by 23 per cent (to 1,116 customers) in regional areas.
The report shows customers facing financial difficulty are often opting for support measures other than payment plans, suggesting difficulty with cash flow rather than money management.
The commission’s water director Marcus Crudden said water businesses have proactively supported customers and stopped restricting access to water supply for non-payment of bills.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen Victoria’s water businesses acting to ensure their customers are aware of support programs, which has contributed to greater access to support and positive sentiment among customers toward their suppliers,” he said.
“Over the past twelve months we have seen more consistent trends, or a slower rate of change, with the number of customers accessing support measures than the previous twelve months.”
About the data: Data is reported weekly by water businesses and is not audited by the commission. We are collecting a small subset of data included in our annual water performance report.