Severn Trent has arranged for £38 million to be made available to support its smaller suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak. It said immediate payment will be made to small and medium-sized forms for the next three months to ease the difficult economic conditions.

With many projects being put on hold during the pandemic, fears for the resilience of companies in the supply chain have been growing.

Helen Miles, chief commercial officer at SVT, said the company will continue to place orders with its suppliers and has more payments lined up.

“We know how hard it is for the smaller companies we work with at the moment which is why we wanted to do what we could to help them,” she said. “It’s really important to us we do the right thing for our colleagues, our customers and our communities, and this is just one of a number of commitments we’ve made to achieve that.”

Across the sector, companies prioritised financial assistance for their customers and schemes were quickly put in place to defer payments or set up payment plans to reduce the stress of bills on households through the coronavirus outbreak.

As well as paying its suppliers early, Severn Trent announced the creation of a £1 million fund for charities and community groups to assist them through the crisis. More than 200 organisations have already benefited from the fund.

Liv Garfield, chief executive at SVT, said the company recognises its role in the community is more than a business. She said although the “day job” has never been more important, but the company wanted to go even further.

“That’s why we’ve taken steps to put our arms around our many stakeholders where we can, from vulnerable customers to those struggling to pay, to local charities to small suppliers, as well as making further commitments to our wonderful teams.”

Garfield along with chair Christine Hodgson and chief financial officer James Bowling have all donated 25 per cent of their salaries for the next three months to charities supporting community groups during the pandemic.

The company ploughed £3.5 million into its financial support for customers including the WaterSure and Big Difference schemes that offer discounts of up to 90 per cent for people struggling with bills.

Garfield said: “I couldn’t be more proud of my Severn Trent colleagues as we continue to not only serve our customers but also to go above and beyond to help support our communities through this crisis.”

Keeping Us Connected is a new series from Utility Week in which we highlight the achievements of employees across the utilities sector in getting the UK through lockdown. To nominate a member of your team for recognition, please email jameswallin@fav-house.com.

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