GMW's hardship policy and guidelines

GMW's hardship policy and guidelines

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GMW has developed hardship guidelines to allow access to flexible and convenient payment options for all customers.

Summary 

A customer experiencing financial hardship is someone who intends to pay, but who does not have the financial capacity to make the required payments within the time frame set out in the water businesses’ payment terms.

GMW has developed hardship guidelines to allow access to flexible and convenient payment options for all GMW customers regardless of their financial position. We understand that some of our customers are facing challenging times. That’s why we’re committed to doing all we can to support our customers.

For customers experiencing financial difficulties or hardship, there are currently a number of ways we can help you manage your account and relieve some of the pressure you may be facing. We know that every situation is unique and financial stress impacts our customers in different ways.

Regardless of whether you’re experiencing temporary or long term financial difficulties,we work with customers to find solutions to best suit their individual needs.

Current payment options for fixed charges accounts

  • Pay your 2018/19 fixed charges account in full by 16 September 2018 and receive a two per cent discount, or pay in full by 16 December with no discount.
  • We are also offering instalment options for 2018/19 fixed charges accounts. Pay eight equal instalments of 12.5 per cent on the 16th of each month, starting on 16 September 2018 with the final payment due on 16 April 2019.

Current payment options for variable charges accounts

  • Pay in full within 30 days of the date of the invoice.
  • Contact us on 1800 013 357 to discuss a flexible payment plan.

Other options

  • Flexible payment plans
  • Payment extensions
  • Direct debit instalments
  • Information about government pensioner concessions
  • Information about accredited financial and health support.

Each customer can expect to be treated respectfully and sensitively on a case by case basis and have their circumstances kept confidential.

 Why is this topic being considered?

We are committed to supporting our customers. Both GMW and its customers face weather cycles ranging from very wet to very dry conditions. Prolonged dry conditions and subsequent low inflows and other external influences can have a serious financial effect on irrigators. When our business and our customers tackle tough times, we believe the way we support our customers in hardship must be further explored.

What is the decision(s) to be made?

  • Is the current process for accessing payment options and hardship fair and reasonable?
  • Do we need to change the way our customers access our payment options and hardship, If so what are the key indicators of hardship?
  • Are the payment terms and options available suitable?
  • Can there be any relationship to the timing of when customers receive payments for crops, product or stock?
  • For elderly or pensioned customers, can GMW look to accumulating a charge over land that is payable on sale or probate (meaning small non-commercial customers would not pay for fixed changes until they sell or their estate is administered)
  • What else can GMW do to support its customers during tough times? 

How does this matter affect customers?

  • GMW is a net borrower of funds. This means that interest is charged on outstanding loan balances, and when cash is not received from customers this results in increased interest charges for the remaining customers as there is less potential to reduce borrowings.
  • Flexible payment and Hardship arrangements are carefully designed. Otherwise, customers who do not need this support can end up bearing a share of the additional interest and other costs, leading to higher prices for them and reducing their viability.

What is not-negotiable in this topic?

That GMW recovers the outstanding debt.

What is negotiable in this topic?

  • How we identify ‘genuine financial difficulty' and hardship.  
  • The payment options
  • The discount for early payment
  • The debt recovery process
  • Communications – for example warning notices and subsequent legal action.
  • Actions relating to non-payment, including ‘stop supply’ over all landholdings

What are the known, viable options?

  • Greater support for genuine hardship. For example, hardship grants or waivers or longer credit terms.
  • If we provide greater support for hardship, do we need to strengthen the rules on eligibility?
  • Action plans for recovery, GMW could increase or decrease legal activity to pursue outstanding accounts.
  • GMW could apply differing rules for when suspension of supply is implemented, i.e. dependent upon seasonal factors, price of temporary water or other options.
  • Offer discounts for termination fees for those in hardship to minimise asset replenishment requirements for GMW whilst also offering relief for outstanding accounts.
  • To work with external support agencies offering financial counselling services or provide that service internally, particularly for those with water assets that can be realised to settle GMW accounts.

If other options are identified, can they be considered?

Yes, GMW is committed to supporting customers whilst maintaining financial sustainability so other options can be considered.