Friday, 27 March 2015

Yorkshire Water Launches New Scheme To Help Vulnerable Customers With Water Bills


Households struggling with the cost of living could soon receive more help with their water bills as Yorkshire Water launches a new tariff targeted at customers on low incomes.

The new social tariff, called Water Support, will help to reduce the bills of around 10,000 customers on low incomes and whose water bills are higher than average. Those customers eligible for the new tariff could see their bills fall by around £150 a year.

The announcement comes following the news that water bills across the region are set to drop by an average of 3% from April 2015.

The company will be targeting customers with low household incomes and whose water bills are higher than average, but who aren’t currently in arrears with bill payment. Yorkshire Water will contact the customers identified to discuss if WaterSupport is the best tariff for them.  Customers can also contact Yorkshire Water direct if they believe they may be eligible.

The aim is to provide assistance to vulnerable customers and prevent them from getting into debt. For customers who are in arrears on their bills we have alternative schemes to provide assistance.

Yorkshire Water Chief Executive Richard Flint said, “Yorkshire Water customers already benefit from having some of the lowest bills in the UK and to help customers even more we’ll be reducing the average bill by 3% from April 2015. However, we know the cost of living is a real concern for some of our customers and we want to do what we can to support those that are struggling with their water bills.”

“We already have a number of schemes aimed at helping vulnerable customers and those struggling with debt, but our new Water Support tariff will help to prevent customers on low incomes getting into debt in the first place.”

“Yorkshire Water is committed to being a responsible business and our new social tariff is an important step in ensuring we do everything we can to support our customers.”

Labour MP for Wakefield Mary Creagh MP helped to launch the new scheme today on a visit to Yorkshire Water’s customer contact centre in Bradford. Commenting she said, “Families across Yorkshire are struggling with the cost of living crisis so it’s good to see Yorkshire Water introducing a social tariff to help people on low incomes. This is something which I have campaigned for, for several years.
 
“A Labour government will force all water companies to offer a social tariff to help people struggling to pay their bills.”

Monday, 23 March 2015

Tour To Celebrate Cleaner Seas


Businesses and local stakeholders joined Yorkshire Water on Friday for a tour of the company’s new storm water facilities in Bridlington.

Yorkshire Water has invested £40 million in the town to help improve the quality of bathing waters at Bridlington’s North and South beaches. The tour is being held to give an opportunity for the multi-agency partnership, which supported the project, to jointly view the new facilities.

As part of the event, 10 new beach huts were officially opened by the Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Councillor Pat O'Neil. The beach huts were constructed as part of the bathing water project and stand alongside a new piece of public art which was commissioned by Yorkshire Water. The artwork is called “Waterline” and is designed to reflect the surrounding sky and seascape.

Among the other improvements in the Bridlington project are a four new huge storm water pumps, capable of pumping 7,500 litres per second and 27 million litres every hour – that’s equivalent to 10 Olympic size swimming pools. An 800 metre long, two metre wide storm water tunnel was constructed and a 1.2 kilometre long coastal pipe was installed into the sea.


Simon Gibby, Yorkshire Water’s Head of Capital Projects, said: “After three years of complex civil engineering work it is great to be able to show off our £40m investment for the resort and to give people the chance to see behind the scenes.

“We would like to thank East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Environment Agency, Welcome to Yorkshire and many local businesses and organisations for supporting this project and for coming together today to celebrate Bridlington’s fantastic beaches.”

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Digging for fish at Rabbit Ings


Ecologists, land managers and other stakeholders gathered yesterday to celebrate the progress of an innovative habitat improvement project on a section of the River Dearne - Yorkshire Water’s first river restoration project.

The group including Yorkshire Water, the Environment Agency, Dearne Valley Greenheart Nature Improvement Area, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Rivers Trust, in addition to landowners The Land Trust and Barnsley Council and managing agents Groundwork in South Yorkshire have been working together for four years to make this innovative channel digging project a reality and are at last digging the new channel to allow faster flowing water course through this landscape reclaimed from the old pit spoil and landfill sites.

If the project is successful, it could revolutionise the way the water industry approaches meeting river water quality standards. Yorkshire Water is collecting four years’ worth of data, both before and after the scheme, in a bid to assess its impact and use as a tool to address poor water quality.

Dr Kathryn Turner, Yorkshire Water technical lead comments: “Following years of investment by water companies to bring main river waters up to European standards, Yorkshire Water are now trailing innovative types of habitat restoration to see if a more natural approach can improve water quality in small post-industrial streams like Cudworth Dyke near Barnsley. This project will breathe new life in to the waters on site and create a home for many freshwater plants and animals such as fish and newts”

Mick Birkinshaw, Rabbit Ings Country Park Ranger, said: “Since Rabbit Ings Country Park opened three years ago, the wildlife diversity has continually increased and this latest scheme will benefit the habitat even further. This exciting new project is another step forward that will extend and improve existing wetland habitats where we have water vole, water shrew, kingfisher and harvest mouse. This in turn will make it a more attractive site for visitors and our schools education programme.”

Ian Kendall, Estates Manager of The Land Trust said: “At Rabbit Ings The Land Trust and our managing partner Groundwork in South Yorkshire are dedicated to providing a place where people can enjoy a wide variety of our native wildlife. Therefore we are delighted to be involved in this ground breaking project and are very grateful for the massive investment that Yorkshire Water are making to improve such an important habitat.”



RSPB Project Manager Pete Wall said: “Rabbit Ings falls into the boundary of the Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area, one of only twelve in the country designated by DEFRA in 2012. We are delighted to be a part of the project, helping Yorkshire Water to improve the local environment for wildlife, creating a better place for people to live and work.”

Dearne Valley NIA Riparian Advisor Ailsa Henderson said: "Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff have been providing expert guidance throughout the project’s development, particularly regarding water voles which is Britain's fastest declining wild mammal along with other mammals that live within waterside habitats. As the project moves into its delivery phase we shall continue to advise the contractors working on site and look forward to seeing how this improved and extended habitat benefits the wildlife here." 

Anthony Downing, Environment Officer for Don and Rother Water and Land Team, said: "The design of this particular scheme works with natural processes to both address water quality problems and create greater diversity of river habitat which will be of benefit to plant and animal species.

“We have been delighted to be part of this project, which not only has provided a good model for partnership working and water quality improvements, but hopefully it will also provide a sound evidence base to support future projects addressing water quality problems around water company discharges."

Barnsley Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Trevor Mayne, said this was a significant step forward for the catchment:

“For decades the whole Cudworth Dyke system, of which this stream is a part, has suffered from a multitude of abuses.  We are delighted to be involved in this project which should improve things for our native wildlife and habitats.”

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Yorkshire Water launches biggest ever apprenticeship scheme



Yorkshire Water will be creating 160 apprenticeships over the next five years in the biggest scheme of its kind ever launched by the company.

The majority of the new positions will be in operational roles as Yorkshire Water looks to recruit the next generation of skilled colleagues to be at the heart of providing a crucial service to millions of people around the region.

Yorkshire Water’s Esholt waste water treatment works was the location for an event to mark the launch of the scheme today (Friday, January 23) and recruitment for the roles will commence in May.

With almost one in five (18.3%) 18-24 year olds across Yorkshire not in education, employment or training (NEETs), the announcement is welcome news for the region.

The new skilled recruits will also ensure Yorkshire Water is prepared for a skills gap being predicted in the utility sector by 2025[1], partly caused by an ageing workforce.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “Many people may not be aware just what a diverse range of skills we have within the company – from qualified engineers to geologists to our talented operators.

“In fact, we have some of the most skilled colleagues that you’ll find in any industry and it’s so important to us as a business that we look to preserve this specialist knowledge for the future.

“That’s why we are delighted to announce these 160 apprenticeships, it’s great news for young people and for the Yorkshire economy. Ours is a company that invests in its people and, having joined as a graduate myself, I know there are endless opportunities to progress and develop here.”

Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, gave his backing to the scheme as he attended its launch. He said: “I am so pleased that Yorkshire Water are investing so much in apprenticeships.

“Since the election, there have been over 3000 more apprenticeships in the Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough area. With companies like Yorkshire Water realising the potential of apprenticeships, it is excellent news for our area, and I am proud to support the new scheme.”

While there will be a variety of opportunities in a number of different areas, the focus will be on skilled operational roles to prepare for the retirement of colleagues currently in those positions. This will ensure the technical capability remains high in Yorkshire Water’s workforce and the company’s reliable service continues.

The latest recruitment drive from Yorkshire Water will be on the back of recruiting 59 apprentices over  the past five years.

Details about Yorkshire Water’s apprenticeship programme and information about the recruitment process can be found on the company’s website: http://www.yorkshirewater.com/careers/apprenticeships.aspx



Monday, 19 January 2015

Yorkshire Water top for customer service


 
Yorkshire Water offers the best customer service of any utility company in the UK, according to the latest report by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

The institute’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index places Yorkshire Water ahead of 16 other major water and energy companies from around the country for its commitment to high levels of customer service.

And the news is a reflection of the work which has been done by Yorkshire Water over the past year, leading to the company rising from fifth place among utility companies to top of the table.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “The latest report from the Institute of Customer Service is fantastic recognition of all the hard work we’ve put into offering our customers the best experience possible.

“Nonetheless, we’re committed to improving our customer service even further. We’ll be continuing to find the things we can improve on to offer our five million domestic and business  customers an even better service.”

Among the measures introduced by Yorkshire Water are:

·         Customer in the room – Yorkshire Water customers that have had a bad experience with the company are invited to a session where they can explain the effect it had to everyone involved so that lessons can be learned.

·         Customer promise – Yorkshire Water now has a customer promise which is embedded into the culture of the company for all of its colleagues to buy into: http://www.yorkshirewater.com/our-customer-promise.aspx

·         Customer voice – Customers are asked to rate their experience out of 5 and those scores are directly fed back to the colleague involved.

·         Technology – The latest technology is always being borne in mind when dealing with customers. One example is the now widespread use of proactively texting customers affected by planned work or incidents.

The ICS’s Customer Satisfaction Index gives each company a customer service score based on surveys of over 10,000 customers across the country. The index looks at companies’ commitment to great service throughout the organisation, the processes they have in place and whether they approach people with customer service in mind.

As well as coming out top in the latest customer satisfaction index for the utility sector, Yorkshire Water has also been nominated for two awards at the national ICS awards in March.

 

One example of Yorkshire Water’s commitment to great customer service can be seen in the company’s recent introduction of Google Translate for members of its Water Quality team.

The application allows users to instantly translate any sentence from English into more than 80 different languages and the company is already noticing an improvement in its customer service as a result.

Tony Woodhead, a water quality sampling officer for the company, began using the technology after running into issues during some of his customer visits, which are done right across the region.

Tony said: “As part of our routine testing, we visit a number of customers each day to check their water quality and make sure everything is running as we’d expect it to.

“This involves selecting properties at random and visiting some of our customers a bit out of the blue. I was having some issues with those that didn’t speak particularly good English and I began to wonder how I could make things easier for them.

“That’s when I started using Google Translate as an option. I’ve already used it to explain my visit to customers in 18 different languages and it’s been so successful that there’s now more than 30 of my colleagues doing the same thing.”

Tony’s colleagues in the Water Quality team now have the software on their phones for the visits and the scheme is getting fantastic feedback from customers.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Recreated river route to restore wildlife



Pioneering work in South Yorkshire is aiming to reinvigorate wildlife in a section of the River Dearne catchment by using clever engineering to transform the water’s flow.

The innovative scheme will transform a stagnant, straight section of the stream that passes through Rabbit Ings Nature Reserve into a faster moving S-shaped channel. It is hoped that introducing this movement will clear away sediment and make the water cleaner for local wildlife.

And the members of the group behind its creation met today (January 15) to officially get work underway. The project is thought to be one of the first in the country to investigate whether restoring river habitat directly impacts water quality and the results will be reported in 2017. 

The project group, headed up by Yorkshire Water, includes members from the Environment Agency, Dearne Valley Greenheart Nature Improvement Area, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Rivers Trust, in addition to landowners The Land Trust and Barnsley Council and managing agents Groundwork in South Yorkshire.

If the project is successful, it could revolutionise the way the water industry approaches meeting river water quality standards close to waste water treatment works.

An expert delivery partnership of Willowbank Services, Peter Brett Associates and Hull International Fisheries Institute will be carrying out the work, which involves  a new meandering route for the stream to increase the flow and improve oxygenation.

It is hoped the scheme will remove the sorts of sediment deposits that have built up and impaired local wildlife since as far back as the industrial revolution.

The new stream route has also been designed to take key detours to ensure it doesn’t damage the existing water vole population or any of the local inhabitants.

Once finished, it is hoped the restoration will create a visible increase in indicators of good water quality, such as plants and invertebrates, as well as encouraging Yorkshire freshwater species such as shrimps, mayflies and brown trout to return. Yorkshire Water is collecting four years’ worth of data, both before and after the scheme, in a bid to assess its impact.

Yorkshire Water Project Manager Sarah Gledhill said: “Looking after the environment is important to us and we are keen to understand if habitat restoration can help streams like Sandybridge dyke recover from their industrial heritage to be more resilient in the future.

“This project could help shape the way in which we invest in the region in future and even revolutionise how we attempt to improve water quality.”

The habitat restoration is being trialled at the dyke largely due to its history. The stream runs through land formerly used to store waste from the nearby coal mine and a closed municipal landfill site. The stream is mostly man made, in poor condition and the perfect case study for the research.

Mick Birkinshaw, Rabbit Ings Country Park Ranger, said: “Since Rabbit Ings Country Park opened three years ago, the wildlife diversity has continually increased and this latest scheme will benefit the habitat even further. This exciting new project is another step forward that will extend and improve existing wetland habitats where we have water vole, water shrew, kingfisher and harvest mouse. This in turn will make it a more attractive site for visitors and our schools education programme.”

Ian Kendall, Estates Manager of The Land Trust said: “At Rabbit Ings The Land Trust and our managing partner Groundwork in South Yorkshire are dedicated to providing a place where people can enjoy a wide variety of our native wildlife. Therefore we are delighted to be involved in this ground breaking project and are very grateful for the massive investment that Yorkshire Water are making to improve such an important habitat.”
Project Manager Pete Wall said: “Rabbit Ings falls into the boundary of the Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area, one of only twelve in the country designated by DEFRA in 2012. We are delighted to be a part of the project, helping Yorkshire Water to improve the local environment for wildlife, creating a better place for people to live and work.”
Dearne Valley NIA Riparian Advisor Ailsa Henderson said: "Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff have been providing expert guidance throughout the project’s development, particularly regarding water voles which is Britain's fastest declining wild mammal along with other mammals that live within waterside habitats. As the project moves into its delivery phase we shall continue to advise the contractors working on site and look forward to seeing how this improved and extended habitat benefits the wildlife here." 
Anthony Downing, Environment Officer for Don and Rother Water and Land Team, said: "The design of this particular scheme works with natural processes to both address water quality problems and create greater diversity of river habitat which will be of benefit to plant and animal species.

We have been delighted to be part of this project, which not only has provided a good model for partnership working and water quality improvements, but hopefully it will also provide a sound evidence base to support future projects addressing water quality problems around water company discharges."

Barnsley Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Trevor Mayne, said this was a significant step forward for the catchment:

“For decades the whole Cudworth Dyke system, of which this stream is a part, has suffered from a multitude of abuses.  We are delighted to be involved in this project which should improve things for our native wildlife and habitats.”

ENDS

Monday, 29 December 2014

Living Wage accreditation for Yorkshire Water and Kelda group




The Kelda group including Yorkshire Water, has received formal accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.

The Living Wage commitment will see all eligible employees working at the company, regardless of whether they are permanent employees or third-party contractors and suppliers; receive a minimum hourly wage of £7.85, significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £6.50.
 
The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK. Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; it is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet.
Kelda and Yorkshire Water’s CEO Richard Flint said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the Living Wage accreditation because ensuring all eligible employees are paid fairly is the right thing to do, whether they are our employees or third-party contractors.
“We are proud to be one of the region’s biggest employers and with that position comes the responsibility that our colleagues receive a fair wage for the important work that they do.”
Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis. The Living Wage enjoys cross party support, with public backing from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Living Wage Foundation Director, Rhys Moore, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Kelda Group which includes Yorkshire Water to the Living Wage movement as an accredited employer.
“The best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the Living Wage now. The Living Wage is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.”
More than 1,000 leading employers have received the accreditation ranging from independent printers, hairdressers and breweries, to well-known companies such as Nationwide, Aviva and SSE.