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TOP praise was heaped upon your FREE and favourite All Together NOW! newspaper.

Louise Beardmore, customer service director at United Utilities, said: “This is a really, really great FREE newspaper – one that’s helping hundreds of thousands of people across the North West – and beyond.

“Of all the marketing material United Utilities puts out into the community, nothing generates as much feedback and response as All Together NOW!

“It is a great platform that’s helping us to get our messages out, and I would urge anyone who is not familiar with the paper to get hold of a copy. It’s fantastic!”

Louise was welcoming more than 100 representatives from organisations across the region to the water company’s first ever Affordability Summit, which looked at what more can be done to support people struggling to make ends meet.

She said: “From our point of view, if customers are struggling with water bills, they are likely to be struggling to pay most of their household bills, so this is collective challenge to see what more we could all be doing to help and support people.

“We already offer a wide range of financial assistance schemes to support our most vulnerable customers, but we are challenging ourselves to improve the scale and effectiveness of the support we offer. We also know lots of customers may be unaware of what we do or feel unable to reach out for the help.

“Coming together with others who can likewise support customers and encourage them to access the help available is important for getting people out of poverty and back on track.”

Over half of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK are in the North West.

Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey, said: “Many people across the North West are struggling to stay up to date with their bills and any additional help that can be given is so important. It can make all the difference between having money to buy food or requiring help from a food bank.”

Also supporting the event was Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue. He said: “During times of austerity, many people are offering support to those in their own communities who find themselves in the grip of poverty. It’s important for large businesses to do the same; especially those businesses that provide an integral service to the most vulnerable and have a stake in tackling the poverty premium.”

Organisations at the event, held at St George’s Hall, Liverpool, included councils, utility companies, money advice agencies, charities, and housing associations.

United Utilities used the event, at St George’s Hall, Liverpool, to launch two new financial support schemes, one of which guarantees to help customers behind with their water bills to be debt free within two years.

In response to the roll-out of Universal Credit, the company is also offering a suspension or delay in payments for up to eight weeks, giving people time to manage their budgets in the event of a short-term reduction in their household income due to the transition over to the new benefit.

www.unitedutilities.com/difficulty-paying-bill