We’re increasing our support services

The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting all communities across the UK.

Most of the country is emerging from lockdown following a devastating period for many families, an enormous effort by health and care workers and many others working in crucial roles.

There has also been an unprecedented set of government and charitable interventions to mitigate some of the social and economic effects of the crisis.

For those who are vulnerable – due to age, ill health, location or reduced income – the impacts of Covid-19 are serious; increased water and energy costs from being at home during lockdown, being isolated from support, family and community, losing access to basic requirements and dealing with constantly changing benefits advice.

Like every organisation, Auriga has rapidly adapted to the new working environment.

Throughout this period, we have continued to deliver our core programmes of work with our people transferred to operate from home: delivering programmes of activities for our clients that reduce hardship and increase wellbeing.

Our grants and advice teams are still busy helping people who are struggling with water and energy bills and need help with debt.

During this period of unprecedented need we have:

  1. Gained a substantial portfolio of new assistance schemes to deliver important spending on relief of hardship, fuel and water poverty and efficiency advice, welfare and wellbeing.
  2. Expanded the list of advice topics we offer, including checking on how customers are feeling and coping and signposting to NHS services if needed. We have revised our benefits advice, including supporting people who have lost employment. We have also provided loneliness and isolation advice, identifying and making referrals to local community response teams etc.
  3. Assessed higher volumes of individuals on a case-by-case basis.

With the pandemic expected to last many more months ahead, we’re predicting that families and individuals will see their see utility debts mount up and potentially become unaffordable.

Looking forward, we have a broad and varied programme of work that will help with the UK’s response to Covid-19. Some of that activity comes from projects with our longstanding partnerships with the utility companies and charities.  Other work is with new clients who want to specifically increase their efforts on topics like income maximisation, tariff switching, emergency hardship measures, as well as general wellbeing.

Our work to support priority services register customers, to offer more extensive support, and hasten the creation of a single, shared PSR has been rapidly progressing. We have laid the foundations for the national portal and are working to deliver this project by the end of 2020, and we have developed bespoke portals for individual companies.  All to improve outcomes for customers in vulnerable circumstances.

Clients are continuing to increase and broaden measures aimed at alleviating fuel poverty. During the last few months we have had a rapid rise in new projects to manage emergency fuel payments. These services directly support households who have run out of money and can’t afford essentials like food or heating.

We have also been examining other ways of protecting and supporting the vulnerable during lockdown. For those who are finding it difficult to pay water charges some water companies are adding greater budgets for customer support schemes – so for example, a low-income family meeting the criteria could be eligible for a reduction of 10% to 90% off their water bills for a full twelve months.

We genuinely care about creating better and lasting impacts for households and will therefore continue to add further interventions to this list as they are approved. In all of our work, we aim to combine deliverability with our compassionate culture. We never forget that almost all the people who call are in a difficult situation and are reaching out for help. There are many case studies about our passionate people (please see our Media Centre to read more) and we hope this shines out through the outputs we create.

Click here to read our Covid-19 risk assessment.

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