‘Help with Bills’ debt surgeries as communities contend with the cost of living crisis

20 January 2023

Debt advisors from Dwr Cymru Welsh Water recently visited community centres in Newport to help customers with concerns around debt and water bill payments.

To help address the ongoing issue of the cost of living crisis and soaring energy prices, Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales, have been visiting locations across Newport with their specialist debt advice team. The advisors, who typically support customers over the telephone, attended Gaer Community Centre and Bettws Community Centre on the 18th and 19th of January.

The drop-in debt surgeries enabled customers to meet debt advisors in person to discuss their concerns. The sessions gave customers the option to discuss arrears, find out about support to help control debt and set up manageable payment plans. The debt surgeries were promoted in the local community via email and text to local customers whose accounts are in arrears, inviting them to meet the team.

A similar approach in Pillgwenlly Millennium Centre in autumn of 2022 proved valuable for those who attended. One customer said:

“I just came down to sort my bills out. I’m a bit nervous on the phone so I thought this was a great idea. I’m trying to sort myself out. Times are hard and every penny helps. Welsh Water have helped me enormously today.”

The surgeries form part of wider activity in the area, as part of an ongoing community project to build extra resilience for customers. The project sees the company working intensely with local communities and partners, through a place-based approach - to gain insight, identify collaborative opportunities and deliver across a range of services.

This exciting collaborative project includes free water-saving advice and devices to customers, school engagement opportunities on key topics, tariff support and jobseeker advice.

Richard Vennard, Head of Customer Revenue for Welsh Water said:

“Given the current cost of living crisis, it’s extra important for customers to see that we are here to help. There are a number of initiatives and tariffs available to support customers struggling with their water bill, and these events have empowered customers to work with us to find a solution to their arrears. Anyone who is in debt with us and is struggling should call us straight away. We are here to help.”