The UK water industry will work with the next Government to push forward measures that improve the environment and public health, spur economic growth and help customers struggling to pay their bills.
The debate around the UK’s future infrastructure needs usually involves runways, houses, road and rail networks. But we should not forget that they all rely on water and sewerage services – so these services need to be more integral in setting the future of the UK’s infrastructure.
Water scarcity is a problem now and will be an even bigger problem in the next 25 years. And then there are all the predictions about population growth. We do not have enough places to catch the rainwater before we treat it and provide the very best quality drinking water. We urgently need more reservoirs and places to store rainwater and we have to start work immediately on a more coherent, and perhaps braver national planning strategy.
Our focus in the first 100 days will also be on ensuring that water companies have all the tools to help people struggling to pay their bills. This includes the need for better data, including from the Department of Work and Pensions, on who is entitled to benefits, so that our members can target their assistance measures better.
We also need the Government to help us tackle those who won’t pay. Bad debt adds around £15 a year to the bills of those who do pay their bills. By far the biggest source of bad debt is the tenants of rented properties who leave before settling their water bill. We need the Government to make it mandatory for landlords to provide water companies with their tenants’ details, so companies can register them for billing. It is expected that provision of this information will be mandatory in Wales from next year, but there are currently no such plans for England.