UK council welcomes parliamentary group's report

The UK's Consumer Council for Water welcomed the All Party Parliamentary Water Group's report, The Future of the UK Water Sector, and the key proposals put forward to make things better for water consumers. The APPWG report acknowledges that there are numerous challenges in the water sector including affordability of bills, water saving and efficiency, flooding, and the current regulatory system, and stresses that consumers should be the focal point when possible solutions are considered...

LONDON, April 4, 2008 -- The UK's Consumer Council for Water welcomed the All Party Parliamentary Water Group's (APPWG) report, The Future of the UK Water Sector, and the key proposals put forward to make things better for water consumers.

The APPWG report acknowledges that there are numerous challenges in the water sector including affordability of bills, water saving and efficiency, flooding, and the current regulatory system, and stresses that consumers should be the focal point when possible solutions are considered.

The APPWG highlights the importance of universal metering combined with new tariff systems, to support vulnerable customers.

The Consumer Council for Water agrees that metering is the fairest way for customers to pay for their water, but points out that there will be losers as well as winners in the switch to metering.

The Consumer Council for Water is pleased that the APPWG calls on government to look at using the tax and benefits system to help customers who can't afford to pay their water bills but stresses that protection needs to be in place before metering is introduced on a wider scale.

The report also calls for the Consumer Council for Water to have a greater role in the price setting process to further protect the interests of consumers.

Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: "It is encouraging that consumers' concerns were a focal point in putting forward these recommendations.

"However, we are concerned that there will be winners as well as losers in the move towards universal metering, and a robust safety net needs to be in place to protect poor customers before metering is introduced on a wider scale.

"Consumers' trust in the water industry needs to be restored after years of above inflation price increases. Consumers need to be put back at the heart of the sector, and quickly."

The All Party Parliamentary Water Group is a cross-party parliamentary body of MPs and Peers set up in 2005 to discuss relevant water policy issues and develop constructive and practicable solutions for addressing imminent problems in the wider water sector.

The Consumer Council for Water is the statutory water consumer body, and operates as a non-departmental public body reporting to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Assembly Government. It has a committee for Wales, and at local level, is supported by four regional committees in England.

Also see:
-- "Consumer Council For Water meets to discuss future water charges"
-- "Know your water rights"
-- "Water watchdog considers company water resource plans"
-- "Final report on future of UK water sector"

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