Water Watchdog considers companies’ plans to tackle water debt.

The Consumer Council for Water will be discussing the latest changes to customers’ bills and looking at how water companies work with customers in debt, when it meets in Durham on Thursday 3 March.

The watchdog’s Northern Committee, which represents customers of Hartlepool Water, Northumbrian Water, Yorkshire Water and United Utilities, will be questioning the companies on changes to their charges for the coming year and how they intend to work with customers who are struggling to pay their bills.

Andrea Cook, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water’s Northern Committee, said: “In the current economic climate many consumers are facing difficulties in paying for their water and sewerage services.  It is important that companies act sympathetically towards customers who are genuinely struggling.

“However they also need to demonstrate that they are robust in identifying those customers who have the means to pay their bills but are refusing to do so. Taking appropriate action against the ‘Won’t Pays’ is important in minimising the costs of debt and therefore the impact on other customers’ bills.”

Other issues on the agenda include updates on companies’ activities and operations and on the number of complaints received by the Consumer Council for Water about the water companies.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and will have an opportunity to raise any issues relating to water and sewerage services during a listening session at the start of the meeting.

The meeting will begin at 10 am on Thursday 3 March 2011 at Radisson Blu Hotel, Frankland Lane, Framwellgate Waterside, Durham DH1 5TA.