Fair and Affordable Water

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2006 Water & Environment Service Group Conference
15 March 2006

Conference welcomes the publication of the report ‘Fair and Affordable Water’ commissioned by UNISON from the Centre for Utility Consumer Law at Leicester University.

The present basis on which domestic consumers pay for their water and sewage services is unsustainable and unfair. A growing number of consumers have chosen to opt for meters but the evidence suggests that the poorest families least able to pay have remained on rateable values based charges.

Conference recognises that water companies are seriously concerned about the rising water debt and the difficulties of recovering that debt, in part because of the obscure relationship between the water and sewage service provider and the consumer.

Conference further recognises the increasing extent of water poverty and notes with interest the decision of the Northern Ireland Authorities to place a cap of 3% of earnings for low income households so that no-one will pay more than £180 regardless of the value of their home.

Conference therefore:

Endorses the work of the Water and Environment Service Group Executive in producing the report.

Calls on the Executive to campaign for a new basis on which to pay for water and sewage services that is fair, sustainable and environmentally sound.

Instructs the Executive to lobby for any new basis for funding to produce sufficient funds to enable the provision of a good quality service delivered by staff who are well paid and properly trained to a level that can meet the existing and future needs of the water and sewage industry.