Ahead of the Utility Week Consumer Debt Conference, we ask Ben Earl, Head of Water Efficiency, Southern Water some questions - find out what he said...

Ben Earl

1) Who or what is having the biggest impact on consumer debt in the UK?
I think we have to acknowledge that low wages and insecure employment is having a massive impact on society and that many struggle to keep up with day to day challenges. Add to that a legacy of large numbers who are reliant on both secured and unsecured credit and a sluggish economy at the moment and these are the perfect conditions for a debt storm.

2) Where are the biggest opportunities for the industry to reduce consumer debt?
As utilities we have to continue to collaborate and offer multiple solutions for customers. Whether working to cut energy and water usage for large users, further joint collaboration on priority services or working even closer with the voluntary sector then many more opportunities exist.

3) What are you most looking forward to at the Utility Week Consumer Debt Conference 2020?
Being able to share with the conference the objectives, achievements and recommendations of the Southern Water affordability and water efficiency partnership involving a local authority, CCWater and a leading university and gaining real insight about what others are doing to collaborate in this space.

4) What career advice would you give your younger self?
Given that my original sustainability degree was a relatively niche qualification at the time, to have been bolder to drive change even faster in the jobs that subsequently followed so that we wouldn’t face the scale of challenges we do today - therefore to have been more confident!

5) Who would your top five dinner party guests be (living or deceased)?
Jon Snow – I respect him for his journalism and the fact he is President of Cycling UK a cause close to my heart.
Mary Robinson – A very inspirational former President of Ireland and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who has an amazing grace about her and knows how to bring parties together for the common good
Barack Obama – Another inspirational leader and now he has stepping down as the leader of the free world he may have more space in his diary!
Juliet Davenport – Being one of the UKs first entirely renewable energy and green gas energy companies, Good Energy has all the aspects of a leading company from customer service to ethics
Matt Damon – Being a massive fan of the Bourne Identity series he would add a certain style to the event