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Water Industry

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 11 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the average change in water bills since 1997, broken down by water company area, attributable to debts arising from non-payment of water bills. [117341]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made no estimate.The Office of Water Services (Ofwat) collects information on the level of debt and associated recovery costs on a yearly basis. Price limits set by Ofwat in 1999 for the period 2000–01 to 2004–05 made no assumptions about any increases in costs due to non-payment of water bills. However, interim determinations for three companies—Dee Valley Water, Severn Trent Water and Yorkshire Water—have subsequently resulted in price increases, partly owing to the effects of increasing bad debt and debt recovery costs but this element is not separately quantified. Any increases in costs for other companies will be considered when price limits are next reviewed in 2004.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what further guidance she has given the Director General of Water Services in connection with his periodic review of water company price limits. [117539]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State issued initial guidance to the Director General of Water Services on the periodic review of water price limits in January 2003. A copy has been placed in the House Library. Further guidance will be issued in 2004.