The cost of metered water

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The Independent Online
From Mr I. C. R. Byatt

Sir: I would be very interested to see the studies referred to in Susan B Hyatt's letter ("Unmerited praise for water regulation", 15 March).

She claims these have demonstrated that low-income families on water meters are paying two to four times more for water than their neighbours in council houses still paying by rateable value. Nationally, the average household bill for a metered customer will be £207 this year, while an average unmeasured bill will be £211. But this year on the Lower Grange Estate in Bradford (where most of the studies on metered bills have been undertaken), an average bill for a metered customer will be about £179 - well below that of average unmeasured bills on the estate of nearer to £209. This has been due to Ofwat's insistence on fair tariffs for metered customers who have paid too much in the past.

Nor are we aware of any evidence to suggest that metered customers are particularly vulnerable to scabies and dysentery, as Ms Hyatt suggests. Nor do we know of evidence which suggests there has been a larger increase in debt for metered customers than for customers in general. There is no difference in the disconnection rates for these two groups of customers.

Yours faithfully,

IAN BYATT

Director General

OFWAT

Office of Water Services

Birmingham

15 March

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