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Consultation on the Walker Review of Charging for Household Water and Sewerage Services (2011)

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This Waterwise consultation on the Walker Review of Charging for Household Water and Sewerage Services includes advice on the implementation of social tariffs to improve affordability

Affordability

Question 1:

Do you agree that the Assembly Government should do more to encourage the development of social tariffs and other measures to promote affordability for water customers?

Comments:

Yes. This will help address the affordability and bad debt issues set out in the consultation paper – as well as support WAG commitments to eradicating child poverty and tackling financial exclusion. As Walker points out, of the existing £600m annual transfers within the water sector in England and Wales, 2/3 are going in the wrong direction – between those who do not need help, and from those who do need help. A strategic package which includes a Wales-wide policy framework to drive and support effective social tariffs, a planned move to greater metering, and water efficiency help and advice, will help address the well-documented affordability issues which already exist in the water sector, and are particularly stark in Wales. In this way, a move to greater metering becomes part of the solution to affordability concerns: the situation of ten or twenty years ago, when there was a legitimate concern that increased metering would contribute to the problem of affordability, is no longer relevant or accurate now that the tipping point described above has been reached, with vulnerable groups already subsidising largely middle-class meter optants. In England, Waterwise and WWF have set up the Fairness on Tap coalition, bringing together environmental and social NGOs to promote a strategic package of a planned move to greater metering, effective social tariffs and water efficiency help and advice.