Sydney Water responds to rise in calls for financial help

Media release

May 7 2020
Sydney Water has recorded an increased volume of calls for financial assistance, with more customers reaching out for help with their water bills following the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, enquiries to our specialist financial support team (Customer Care) increased 30% on previous years primarily from people that have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

In April, there was a further increase in calls, doubling on the previous year to more than 900 requests.

Sydney Water’s General Manager, Customer Services Kathy Hourigan, says, “Since the impacts of the pandemic started to be felt in Australia in February, we have seen calls for financial assistance rise, with April setting a new record of enquiries for our Customer Care team.”

“The primary reason for requests for financial support is now job losses, with the latest monthly increase painting a picture of the growing economic impact Covid-19 has had on our customers and community.”

“We’ve extended the operating hours of the Contact Centre to respond to this increase and added more resources to do all we can to support our customers through this challenging time.”

“Many of our customers are reaching out for the first time for support to pay their bills, which can be very challenging for them so we are seeing both economic and mental health impacts stemming from the pandemic”, said Ms Hourigan.

Customers may be offered support through a payment extension and payment scheme or placed on Sydney Water’s financial assistance program BillAssist.

“Customers can also be reassured that if they are impacted by domestic violence and their financial circumstances change during this time, they can seek support through our assistance program and we will protect their personal records.”

“If anyone needs help they can simply go to our website or contact us on 13 20 92.”

Support programs available include:
  • Flexible payment options to allow for the extension of a customer’s bill due date in the short term
  • Fortnightly or monthly payment plans for customers facing ongoing difficulties
  • Possible rebates for those on aged, disability or service pensions
  • Case management under Sydney Water’s BillAssist Program for those facing long-term hardship
  • Emergency financial relief under the Payment Assistance Scheme PlumbAssist, under the BillAssist program, which facilitates plumbing services for customers who require emergency or essential plumbing and are unable to afford it.