Meters 'do not curb water consumption'

MORE than 40 per cent of homes with a water meter made no effort to curb consumption and nearly one in ten households with meters had problems coping with bills based on the amount of water used, according to a survey published yesterday.

The National Consumer Council council said that the survey's findings bolstered its opposition to meters. A spokeswoman said yesterday: 'It is clear from this survey that if people can afford to pay bills generally then they are not going to save water. The hardship of saving water will fall most on the poorest people. It is much fairer to charge the same rate for water to everybody.'

But Ofwat, the industry's watchdog, which published the study jointly with the Department of the Environment, said: 'Metering trials do not appear to have caused difficulties for many customers, with 91 per cent of households saying they had no difficulty in affording metered water.'

The survey was based on more than 6,000 homes in England and Wales where meters have been fitted as a trial. Just under one in three believed bills were less than they would have been under the existing system.