Waterwise Position on Metering
A third of homes in England and a quarter in Wales are currently metered for water. In Scotland and Northern less than 1% of homes are metered. The rest of us pay a set amount and then use as much as we like - an approach we wouldn't dream of adopting for energy, food or petrol, and almost unheard of for water in the rest of Europe.
Waterwise would like to see full metering across the UK as soon as possible. Despite the 2011 Water White Paper ruling it out, we will continue to campaign for a Government commitment to a managed increase in metering, to meet Walker’s 80% target for England by 2020, supported by water efficiency retrofit and advice, and social tariffs.
Most of the key players now accept that metering is the fairest way to pay for water, including Ministers. Full metering can improve water efficiency by up to 10%, although its long-term impact on water efficiency in the UK remains unmeasured.
Waterwise recognises concerns about the possible punitive impact of metering on low-income households and believes social, environmental and economic aspects of metering should be addressed. However, vulnerable customers are already subsidising those who have opted to be metered, and these inequalities can and should be managed and addressed strategically, rather than through a patchwork of local solutions.
Waterwise is a founder member, along with WWF, of Fairness on Tap, a coalition calling for full metering, supported by social tariffs and help and advice on water efficiency.
Meters are an essential part of a package of measures to ensure we waste less water. As climate change bites further, alongside population growth, and we have more people and less water, managing demand will need to play a much bigger role in how we use water. All meters help water companies use tariffs to incentivise water efficiency, and the smarter the meter, the smarter the possible tariff.