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: August 2020
Water businesses have responded well to provide additional support to customers during the pandemic
Water businesses have been proactive in reaching out to customers to ensure they are aware of existing support programs as well as new support measures developed in response to the pandemic.
Support has also been extended to small business and other non-residential customers
Victoria’s water businesses have adopted the National Cabinet agreed principles for hardship support during the coronavirus pandemic.
We have recently amended our Customer Service Codes for urban and rural water businesses to incorporate these national principles.
The number of Melbourne customers on water business hardship programs continues to steadily increase
The number of metropolitan customers on hardship programs rose from 14,521 in April to 17,270 at the end of August. In regional areas the number fluctuated from week to week between 5,200 and 5,500, and was 5,385 for the final week of August.
More customers are applying for the Utility Relief Grant, particularly in Melbourne
Weekly grant applications peaked at 650 in late June before dropping to 430 by mid-July, but have steadily increased since then to a new high of 714 for the last week of August. This is over four times the historical average of about 175 grant applications per week.
More customers are receiving hardship grants from their water business, especially in regional Victoria
The number of customers awarded hardship grants at each business fluctuates week by week, but the statewide total is currently more than double the historical average of about 245 hardship grants per week, with 493 granted in the final week of August.
Water businesses have stopped restricting customers’ water supply and initiating legal action for non-payment of bills
Many water businesses have removed customers’ water supply restrictors since the pandemic began, but across the state 133 customers still have their supply restricted.