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: March 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.
More customers applied for government Utility Relief Grants during March compared to February
The average weekly application rate was 591 in March, up from 550 in February. Over the past month there was a peak of 656 weekly applications and a low of 539 applications.
The number of metropolitan customers awarded hardship grants returned to the pre-pandemic norm in March
On average 166 metropolitan customers were awarded hardship grants each week in March, close to the pre-pandemic norm of 170 grants awarded per week, but 31 higher than the February average of 197 (the highest weekly average since we began reporting in April last year).
In regional Victoria the March weekly average was 387, 18 more than the February average and over five times the pre-pandemic norm (about 75 grants awarded per week).
The number of customers on hardship programs has increased
The number of metropolitan customers on water business hardship programs rose by 540 (2.7 per cent) from 19,890 at the end of February to 20,430 at the end of March.
In regional areas, the figure at the end of March was 6,284 compared to 6,209 at the end of February.
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.
At the end of March, 115 customers across the state still have their supply restricted, the same number as at the end of February.
View the full March report
Read our media release on the March 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