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Water Supply: Carbon Emissions and Environment Protection

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 38382, tabled on 22 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to reconcile (a) low average bills, (b) the need to support vulnerable customers and (c) other short-term deliverables in the water industry with long-term investment needs to deliver on net-zero commitments and environmental objectives.

Answered on

7 September 2021

(a) Ofwat, the independent economic regulator, is responsible for ensuring that water companies charge fair prices and deliver quality services, through a process called the Price Review.

(b) All water companies offer reduced bills for eligible customers via the WaterSure scheme and social tariffs. Water companies also offer a range of other financial support measures such as payment holidays, bill matching and advice on debt management and water efficiency. Last October, Defra commissioned the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) to review the effectiveness of existing support schemes in water to ensure they are fit for purpose now and in the future. Defra is working with CCW and industry to explore CCW’s recommendations (see Independent Affordability Review | CCW (ccwater.org.uk)) further.

(c) As part of Ofwat's 2019 Price Review process, water companies have set out their investment needs and associated costs up to 2024/2025. The Government has set its future expectations for Ofwat in a new strategic policy statement ( The government's strategic priorities for Ofwat: draft for consultation (defra.gov.uk)) which sets out the significant Government ambitions on the environment and climate change, and how the water industry should contribute to that work.