Households could be in for higher water bills after a committee of MPs called for firms to be given power to install compulsory meters.
The Parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affair Parliamentary Committee (EFRA) committee says it has heard strong evidence to suggest that water metering helps to reduce wastage and detect leaks.
But as it stands only water companies in designated “water-stressed” regions can enforce compulsory meters on households. Households without meters only pay a fixed amount for their service, not for the amount of water they consume.
The committee says it now wants the power to force water metering on households be given to all water companies to help protect water supplies, after drought warnings this summer provoked fears of more water shortages in future.
Having a water meter tends to incentivise houesholds to reduce their water use by around 10-15%, according to the water regulator Ofwat.
Chair of the committee, Neil Parish MP, says: “We need to move beyond a regional approach to water metering, because there is a national need to conserve water. We call on the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to allow all water companies the power to implement compulsory metering.
“That way, companies have the same tools at their disposal to reduce consumption of water in their regions. Where this might lead to significant bill increases, metering should be accompanied by strengthened support for vulnerable customers.”
Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, comments: “Ideally we would like customers to have a choice but we support metering as long as it’s handled sensitively, as people recognise that it is the fairest way to pay for the water they use.
“Some customers – particularly larger households – may see their bills rise, so it’s critical for water companies to have the right amount of financial support already in place. We think it makes sense for metering to be phased to spread the cost for all customers.”
However, the CCW recently told Moneywise that some could benefit from water metering, and it could lower costs. Try the council's water meter calculator to see if you could save on your bills by switching voluntarily to a meter.
WILL A WATER METER SAVE ME MONEY?
Water bills are calculated in two ways. Either you have a meter and only pay for what you consume, or your water supplier makes an estimate of how much it thinks you are likely to consume. To do this, it looks at things like the size of your home.
Andy White, charges expert at the CCW, says: "As a rule of thumb, if your home has more bedrooms than people living in it there's a good chance you may be able to save money."
Conversely, larger households are therefore more likely to see their bills rise if their supplier can force them to have a water meter.
"Water meters won't benefit everyone, but some people can save more than £100 a year," Mr White adds.
"The government agencies…
"The government agencies that are supposed to look after the consumers’ interests are overpaid half wits" - that's what they WANT you to think (or are paid-off, directly or by wilfully-ignoring how toothless they are as watchdogs).
I once rang (in the middle of the night) Railtrack, to complain about how noisy their railway workers were in the middle of the night. My only complaint (given that work has to be done and I live near a railway) is that they were too ignorant to let people know about it in advance, in 2018. They could send a letter to everyone within earshot (a few hundred households, or one per shared block of flats so word gets around, say...) AND / OR (and not even bothering with THIS, is the bit that gets me) simply put a notice on a central website. I believe the website exists, they just are too lacking in incentive to update it. Even the workmen at the trackside could have access to a site to update info, directly, it'd be better than nothing, and the technology exists, so what excuse for artificially-witholding information these days? The money is there, the time is there, but the brains obviously aren't. Because brains and ingenuity isn't getting paid and respected - pure might (or knowing the right people, same old pre-Labour-movement corruption, nepotism etc) is. That's pathetic. What value a man's pride?