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Water Charges

Volume 982: debated on Thursday 17 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will take steps to ensure that water authorities make sufficient cuts in administrative costs to ensure that charges to the public do not increase faster than the rate of inflation;(2) if he will take steps to prevent the current scale of increases in water charges; and if he will make a statement.

We will continue to encourage water authorities to keep down their manpower and other costs to the minimum necessary for the proper discharge of their statutory functions.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the arrangements made by water authorities to make local collections of charges; and if he approves of the decision to make a national Giro charge for payments made through the Post Office.

The methods of collection of charges is a matter for the water authorities and I am not aware that the existing methods cause undue local difficulties.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to rectify the system of direct billing for water and sewerage charges by water authorities, in the light of widespread inaccuracy in the allocation and size of charges for these services.

Direct billing methods are by now in use in nearly all water authorities and it would not be sensible to ask them to reverse course. If my hon. Friend will send me details of the inaccuracies he mentions I shall consider them.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the comparative cost of water per head of the population in each of the regional water authority areas.

Comparative figures for the cost of water services per head of effective population were published for the first time in the 1978–79 annual report of the National Water Council, which was laid before the House in October 1979. The following table summarises the figures for water supply. It should be noted that the "effective" population for each water authority includes an allowance for holiday visitors and an equivalent population for the service provided to industry and commerce, and therefore the unit costs may not correspond with assessments by individual consumers. The figures exclude areas supplied by water companies.

Annual revenue expenditure on water supply 1978–79
Authority£ per head of effective population
North West6.40
Severn Trent7.41
South West10.61
National average7.81