United Utilities Hardship Hub
14 September 2023
United Utilities extends online debt support service to everyone in the North West amid ongoing cost of living crisis
The Hardship Hub has now been opened up to everyone across the North West, bringing together hundreds of financial aid schemes in one place so that people can find help for free.
About the Hardship Hub
The Hardship Hub was created back in 2019 following the first Affordability Summit, creating an online portal exclusively for debt advisors to find out about the range of support services available across the region, making it quicker and easier to direct clients to appropriate help.
As many households struggle to make ends meet due to the ongoing cost of living crisis, the website is being opened up so that everyone can get direct access and find out what help is available to them.
The schemes listed on the site include energy and utility companies, local authorities, housing agencies, charities, and advice and community groups from across the region. There are details on a range of support and advice offerings, from help with utility bills to guidance on applying for housing support.
Who is the Hardship Hub for me?
The Hardship Hub is open to anyone and there's no need to register or provide any personal details. There are around 600 schemes listed on the site, covering national, regional and local initiatives, and the listings can be searched by location or type to help people find appropriate services for where they live and their situation.
Michelle Atkinson, Revenue Director at United Utilities, said:
"We've seen a 74% increase in the number of customers filling out our 'struggling to pay' form online, and we know that it won't just be water bills that people are worrying about but other household costs too, so that's why we wanted to open up the Hardship Hub.
"This will give everyone right across the North West direct access to a vast range of information of financial advice and support services that could make a real difference in their lives.
"The hub has been well used by debt advisors over the past few years, but we know that not everyone wants to speak out about their problems, so making the Hardship Hub available like this will allow people to search for support in their own time."
The Hardship Hub website has undergone a rigorous testing process to ensure that the information is accessible to people with different needs. It is available in multiple languages, the font size and colour can be changed, and there is a speaking service available too. Warrington Disability Partnership has been involved in this process as part of its ongoing collaboration with United Utilities to support vulnerable customers.
Dave Thompson MBE DL, Chief Executive Officer of Warrington Disability Partnership, said:
"United Utilities always goes above and beyond to support vulnerable customers, so it is a natural next step to open up the Hardship Hub to everyone in the North West.
"We know that many people feel embarrassed to reach out for help, so having this information available for free will hopefully mean that more people can get support to improve their lives.
"There are numerous options on the site to make it accessible to all, and we'd encourage anyone who knows someone without internet access who may need this kind of information to lend them a hand - it really could make a big difference."
Please recommend the Hardship Hub to any clients, or even friends and family who you feel would benefit from knowing more about the financial support schemes available in the North West.