Bills doubled for families on low incomes after switch

HOUSEHOLDERS on low incomes in Merseyside who were made to switch to water meters found that their bills doubled.

Most people who were questioned in a survey said they were rationing their use of water - 42 per cent said they washed less - and worried about future bills.

Merseyside is a hotbed of agitation against water metering, largely due to the high level of low-income homes and North West Water's policy of installing meters in all new or extensively refurbished housing.

Several groups of tenants in the region are refusing to let the company read their meters, demanding a return to bills based on rateable values.

The Merseyside Campaign Against Water Meters received completed questionnaires from 95 households, nearly all of whom were tenants in housing association or housing co-operative property. None had chosen to have water meters and only one said it had been advised by the water company on future bills.

More than half of the 95 were able to make a reliable comparison between their old bills, based on rates, and the new ones.

A few households found their new bills were lower but the average increase, taking inflation into account, was a doubling. The new bills averaged pounds 4.70 a week.

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