Worried about water bills? Read this…

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Good news for people across England struggling to pay water bills could come out of a study done in the south-west, according to the government.

It has found that switching to meters and making sure you are getting any benefits you are entitled to are the best ways of managing your water bills.

A pilot programme commissioned by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), looked at the combined effect on low income households of benefit entitlement checks, water efficiency measures and water metering in helping customers afford their water bills.

The study found that:

  • The pilot programme showed savings of more ten times the cost of providing the service
  • The largest gains were made as a result of benefit entitlement checks and from unmeasured households switching to a metered tariff
  • The programme was most successful in helping those households which spend more than 3 per cent of their disposable income on water and sewerage bills

Environment minister Phil Woolas said: “Water affordability is a serious issue and not only in the south west. There are some very important lessons here which could be of value to vulnerable households in other parts of the country.

“Clearly this pilot doesn’t provide a single solution to the problem of affordability. It is a complex issue and water industry stakeholders must keep working together to find ways of addressing it.

“But I want to see water companies in other parts of the country looking at these results, to consider what they can learn from them and whether this is something they can take forward in their own regions.”

The Government is currently developing a national water strategy to tackle the pressures on the water environment presented by changes in climate, demand, development, and population growth.

Water affordability, charging, and tariffs will be part of the strategy, which is to be published early in the new year.

• Learn more about the National Water Strategy on the Water UK website here.

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