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  • by Karma Loveday

Ofwat consults on new debt guidelines

Ofwat is consulting until 28 July on updates to its 2015 debt guidelines for residential customers.

The regulator has reorganised its guidelines into principles and minimum service expectations for different customer groups – those in debt; those in vulnerable circumstances including those at risk of falling into debt; all residential customers; and those whose accounts are managed by others such as housing associations and local authorities. It has also introduced new expectations to encourage companies to proactively identify and contact customers that need help.

Ofwat said the changes – which follow a call for revision from CCW’s Affordability Review as well as Ofwat’s own #ListenCareShare work and the Covid pandemic – seek to balance “allowing companies sufficient flexibility to devise, manage and improve the way they recover money for the benefit of all customers; and setting out as clearly as possible what we believe to be reasonable protection for individual customers – so that these customers receive outcomes that are as good as for other customers”.

The new principles were:

• Help make it easy for all customers to pay their water bill. • Make sure customers who are eligible for help receive it when it is needed. • Treat customers that have their accounts managed by agents as customers of the company. • Be proactive in contacting customers in debt. • Be clear, courteous and non-threatening to customers in debt. • Agree payments that are right for each customer in debt. • Treat customers facing debt recovery by debt recovery agents with care.

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