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Water Charges

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of trends in the number of disconnections by water companies in the last 20 years; and if he will encourage water companies to establish charitable trusts or hardship funds. (297337)

The following tables provide details of the numbers of disconnections by water companies in the last 20 years.

A prohibition on the disconnection of domestic premises for non-payment of bills was introduced on 1 July 1999; therefore figures for household disconnections are only given from 1 April 1989 to 30 June 1999. Figures do not include those premises disconnected for reasons such as health and safety, or leakage and repair.

On average, around five and a half thousand non-household properties are disconnected each year; however the figures show no discernible trends.

Non-household

Household

2007-08

7,133

n/a

2006-07

6,619

n/a

2005-06

11,311

n/a

2004-05

13,211

n/a

2003-04

14,404

n/a

2002-03

8,644

n/a

2001-02

5,286

n/a

2000-01

4,311

n/a

1999-2000

3,569

1,27

1998-99

1,748

1,129

1997-98

1,774

1,907

1996-97

1,543

3,148

1995-96

1,996

5,826

1994-95

2,785

10,047

1993-94

2,636

12,452

1992-93

3,099

18,636

1991-92

1

21,282

1990-91

1

7,673

1989-90

1

8,426

1 Non-household figures for 1989-90 to 1991-92 were not obtainable.

Most companies offer some form of charitable trust or restart scheme. These are advertised in various ways and frequently involve referrals from advice agencies. Ofwat supports this form of assistance as part of an overall package of debt prevention and management. Feedback from the water companies suggests that most customers benefiting from such schemes maintain regular payment habits.

Ofwat offers guidance to companies on charitable trusts. The guidance specifies that where a charitable trust or a restart scheme is in place, companies should, where appropriate, tell customers about them or refer customers to a relevant contact. Companies which do not have such schemes should consider the value of establishing them independently or jointly with other companies or utilities.