#Consumer Affairs
UK Government
United Kingdom

The high water bills in the South West, compared to the rest of the UK, has been one of the biggest issues in the region for the last 20 years. It is something many in Devon and Cornwall have been campaigning on all our careers. We are now within touching distance of solving this injustice.

The problem stems back to the privatisation of the water industry over two decades ago. Unlike the other utilities, water was split into regional monopolies so customers have not benefited from any price competition. Other factors created high prices; South West Water gained responsibility for the upkeep of almost a third of Britain’s coastline; it has to sustain this with only three percent of the country’s population. You then have to add the problem that the water infrastructure in the South West was far less advanced than other regions; requiring South West Water to raise even more over the years to bring the region up to standard.

Despite the obvious unfairness, the issue was not tackled by Government for a number of years. After a long campaign, we finally gained in 2008 the commission of an independent report to look into this, it published its conclusions in 2009 and finally in this year’s Budget, the Government announced its intention to resolve the problem.

The proposal is to provide £40million every year to reduce the average bill by £50 a year. All that needs to happen for the Government to adopt this proposal fully is to pass through the consultation process, which is currently underway. From there new legislation can be introduced to finalise the change. The more people who respond to the consultation, the more likely it is that the plans will be introduced.

The full consultation is here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2011/04/05/water-affordability-1104/

We, the undersigned, welcome the Government’s commitment to fair and affordable water and sewerage services; particularly notes the recommendations contained in paragraph 4.18 of the consultation document “Affordable water: a consultation on the Government’s proposals following the Walker Review of Charging” and calls on the Government to enhance the Water Sure scheme, introduce a social tariff to benefit water consumers on low incomes, and to tackle the issue of justice for the South West, introduce an annual payment of £40million to South West Water from public funds to reduce water bills so they are closer to the national average for identical services.

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The Cut South West Water Bills petition to UK Government was written by Adrian Sanders and is in the category Consumer Affairs at GoPetition.