A major story yesterday for we long suffering water users in the south west is the decision by OFWAT, the water regulator, that our water charges should go down by an average of £6 over the next five years. As might be expected 'South West Water' were asking for increases whilst consumer groups were unhappy that the reductions weren't far greater. We of course pay the highest water rates in the country so if anyone was deserving of a drop it was us. This very modest change in what the water company can charge us still leaves those in Cornwall and most of Devon paying far far more than other water consumers.
I have to admit that my home is unmetered at present - my very modest abode has a relatively small charge levied on it but having said that I am a one person household who doesn't use a huge amount of water so maybe the water meter route ought to be investigated.
It's proved to be instructive to look at the OFWAT website to get much more information about the way the charges will change over the next five years and I was shocked by the difference between 'metered' and 'unmetered' charges. Yes I knew that those on a water meter were generally going to be saving useful amounts of money compared to the rest of us. However the figures that proved really telling were the ones showing the unmetered charges going off in to the stratosphere! The table for the 'South West Water' area indicates the average water charge (that's water and sewerage) dropping from £489 to £483, in other words six pounds less than today as per the media headline. It then goes on to itemise the typical metered bill and the typical unmetered bill for the present year and the next five - whatever "typical" might mean in this context. This gets really interesting because whereas the typical metered bill goes up slightly from £401 to £407, the typical unmetered bill starts at a current £723 before racing up to £935!!
I'm too tired right now to investigate further but guess that the increases take into account inflation. It is self evident that those people without a meter are going to carry by far the biggest burden and that the headline story in the papers and on the radio are only telling a fraction of the story. The whole thing is giving me an incentive to look at the water meter alternative, that's for sure.