Each month during the coronavirus pandemic we are reporting on the number of water customers who are receiving various forms of support from their water business.
Water customer support during the coronavirus pandemic
During the coronavirus pandemic, we are regularly requesting data from Victorian water businesses on the number of water customers who:
- are on payment instalment plans
- are in hardship programs
- have received a water business hardship grant
- have applied for the utility relief grant
- have their water supply restricted.
We are providing information about the data we receive on this page.
Each week data is reported by all 16 urban water businesses and not audited by us.
Key findings: December 2020 to January 2021
Victoria’s water businesses continue to provide additional support to customers during the pandemic.
Water businesses have been proactive in reaching out to customers, including small business and other non-residential customers, to ensure they are aware of existing support programs as well as new support measures developed in response to the pandemic.
Fewer customers applied for grants
Fewer customers applied for government Utility Relief Grants during January compared to November and December.
The average weekly application rate was 421 in January, down from 506 in December and 550 in November. In the past two months there was a weekly peak of 700 applications and a low of 171 applications in the week after Christmas.
The weekly average of hardship grants awarded increased
More customers received hardship grants from their water business each week during January compared to the ends of November and December.
The January weekly average of 559 customers awarded hardship grants was 12 per cent higher than December average of 500, which was 3 per cent higher than the November average.
The number of metropolitan customers on hardship programs has steadied
The number of metropolitan customers on water business hardship programs has steadied in recent weeks, rising by 0.2 per cent this month from 19,420 at the end of December to 19,454 at the end of January.
In regional areas, the figure fluctuated between about 5,900 and 6,100 from week to week over the past two months, with 6,061 customers on hardship programs at the end of January, compared to 5,903 at the end of December.
Supply restrictions or legal action for late payment has generally stopped
Water businesses have generally stopped restricting customers’ water supply and initiating legal action for non-payment of bills since at least late April.
Since the last week in November, eight supply restrictions have been lifted. At the end of January, 116 customers across the state still have their supply restricted.
View the full December to January report
Read our media release on the December and January data
Adopting national coronavirus support principles into water codes
In August 2020 we also amended our water customer service codes to include national support principles for customers facing hardship due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic