Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure GB-2020-13/1534 – measures in United Kingdom
, applies regionally
|Time period||Open ended, started on 24 March 2020|
Measures to prevent social hardship
– Protection of vulnerable groups (beyond employment support)
|Author||Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||01 December 2020 (updated 02 February 2021)|
Anglian Water is the largest water and water recycling company in England and Wales by geographic area. It supplies water and water recycling services to almost seven million people in the East of England and Hartlepool.
It describes itself as a purpose-led organisation and it was the first major utility in the UK to change its company constitution – the Articles of Association – to lock public interest into the way it runs its business, both now and for future generations. The organisation states that it works to bring environmental and social prosperity to the region it serves.
As a supplier of an essential service, the organisation's stated priorities throughout the pandemic were to keep water flowing to customers, to protect and support its employees and wider supply chain, and to offer help and advice to customers who found themselves facing challenges of all types.
The organisation also wanted to support its communities through the pandemic: it states that it is firmly embedded in those communities: the vast majority of its 5,000 employees live in the region, as do many of their friends and families. The organisation identified that in many cases, charities and small community organisations were running short of funds and practical help at the very time they were most needed them.
Thus, as part of its stated purpose is to bring environmental and social prosperity to its region of operation, the organisation wished to restore a sense of wellbeing and security among these communities, whether through practical support or support for emotional wellbeing. As such, it sought to support projects that are having a positive impact on people and the communities in which it operates, allowing them to provide help and connecting people with the practical and essential support they need.
Anglian Water also identified that its many connections through Business in the Community (the business-community outreach charity set up by the Prince of Wales to promote responsible business and corporate social responsibility) and in its supply chain could offer vital support and services, and that the organisation had the skills and experience to help facilitate that support.
To further these goals, Anglian Water brought forward the launch of its planned GBP 1 million Anglian Water Positive Difference Fund. The organisation states that it has always supported communities overseas through its fundraising for the charity WaterAid, but that it was keen to do more in its own region, and had planned to launch the fund as part of a new social contract with its customers. The organisation's Board took the decision to bring the launch of the fund forward in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Thus, the fund has focused on those who are considered high risk (including people with pre-existing medical conditions and people over 60) or who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus.
As part of this, Anglian Water began by fast-tracking over GBP 50,000 of the cash to front-line organisations in the immediate response to battle the pandemic. It then worked with UK Community Foundations, a charity it has partnered with in the past, to establish a framework and criteria for the fund. The remaining half of the Positive Difference Fund is to be released later in the year to meet emerging needs from the fallout from the pandemic. Eligible organisations have been able to apply to their local Community Foundation for grants of up to GBP 5,000.
The first application for the Anglian Water Positive Difference Fund was received just hours after it launched and Anglian Water has now funded upwards of 60 groups across its region. The fund has already supported a wide range of organisations, each providing a vital service for those most in need in their community - from those providing hot meals for people sleeping rough, and groups combatting coronavirus fraud, to those adapting services for autistic children, and vulnerable adults, including telephone befriending for people with dementia and providing devices for adults with learning difficulties to reduce isolation.
Anglian Water has also been instrumental, through its regional leadership of Business in the Community (BITC), in setting up the National Business Response Network, a virtual notice board that promoted a brokerage service between BITC members and organisations in the community that needed help. Since then, more than 750 businesses have joined up to the National Business Response Network, including Marks and Spencer, Boots and Lloyds as well as smaller businesses. The Network has received more than 2,300 requests for help from community groups, local authorities, schools, charities and alliances, and has been able to match nearly 2,000 of those with businesses to provide resources such as food, social care, technology and logistical support.
Moreover, additional support offered to customers has included financial advice, payment holidays, instalment plans, the use of income maximisation tools to signpost additional help, and the promotion and extension of its priority services register.
In terms of its own employees, Anglian Water took the decision early on not to furlough anyone; however, it recognised that employees might still face financial difficulties and thus, it set up an independently funded Employee Assistance Fund. It also extended support to its wider supply chain, including reducing the time taken to make payments, releasing more than GBP 5 million in March alone, helping to support and advise many small and medium-size suppliers with access to advanced procurement opportunities and supporting staff within some supply chain companies whose pay was reduced by their employer.
The Positive Difference Fund has now funded upwards of 60 groups across its region. The fund has already supported a wide range of organisations, each providing a vital service for those most in need in their community - from those providing hot meals for people sleeping rough, and groups combatting coronavirus fraud, to those adapting services for autistic children, and vulnerable adults, including telephone befriending for people with dementia and providing devices for adults with learning difficulties to reduce isolation.
|Does not apply to workers||Applies to all businesses||
The COVID-19 risk group
People in care facilities
Company / Companies
Other social actors (e.g. NGOs)
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Role||No involvement||No involvement|
|Form||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
This is a company initiative and the company alone designed and implemented the measures; thus, there has been no social partner involvement at any stage of design, implementation or monitoring.
No publicly available reaction but given the nature of the measures, it can be assumed that views will be highly positive, on both sides.
Eurofound (2020), Anglian Water: Giving back to the community during crisis, measure GB-2020-13/1534 (measures in United Kingdom), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/GB-2020-13_1534.html
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