Collaborative partnership helps thousands of people across the North East save money on their household bills

A partnership between northern housing association Karbon Homes and Northumbrian Water has helped thousands of people to reduce their water rates and make savings of up to 50% on their monthly bills.

Through the water provider’s financial support options, the two organisations have worked collaboratively to help those on low incomes living in Karbon households, to achieve the best rates for their water usage and reduce bills by up to £22 a month.

Karbon and Northumbrian Water began working together in 2019 and over those four years working together the partnership has supported over 3,800 customers, with discounts totalling over £800,000.

Lee Forrest, Money Matters Manager at Karbon Homes, said: “As we continue to see the cost of living rise, we’re proud to be able to support our customers facing these growing pressures and our partnership with Northumbrian Water has been a fantastic way to help low income households maximise their income.

“The monthly reductions we’re able to make for customers are often quite transformational. The savings could cover an extra food shop or an energy top up, and being able to offer someone a discount on their rates makes a real difference to their lives.”

Lisa Connell, Customer Manager at Northumbrian Water, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Karbon Homes and helping to support so many customers across the North East.

“We know that lots of people are facing financial pressures which is why this partnership is so important, allowing us to offer tailored support and guidance to those who need it when things get difficult.”

Karbon customers gain access to discounted water bills through engagement with Karbon’s Money Matters service - an in-house provision of financial advice and support designed to help customers maximise their income and manage their money better.

Lee added: “Since the beginning of the year, we’ve continued to see a notable increase in the number of customers coming to us for help, directly linked to the rising cost of living.

“The growing costs of just about everything are pushing our lowest income households further into poverty, with many having to regularly make the incredibly tough decisions on whether they heat their homes or eat that day. It’s something the team are hearing now on near enough a daily basis, but that doesn’t make it any easier to digest.

Karbon has invested heavily in its money management and benefit advice and emergency financial support offer over the last couple of years, creating a culture across the organisation that embraces every touch point it has with customers throughout their tenancies to promote the support available.

The Money Matters team gets 80 to 100 referrals a week and last year worked with over 4,500 new customers, generating close to £4million of income gains and issuing around £15,000 of non-repayable hardship awards, in a combination of cash and fuel vouchers.

Lee concluded: “I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved, but I also know that it’s just a drop in the ocean. That’s another reason why the partnerships we have with other organisations in the region are so important. They’re key to helping us spread the message to people that support is available, which in turn helps combat the stigma attached to asking for help and claiming what you’re entitled to.”

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