Water companies should do more to get customer debt under control to keep prices low, the water industry’s regulator has said, after unpaid bills from over 12 months ago added up to £490m this financial year.

The amount owed by customers for 2005-6 was up by £30m from 2004-5 and could contribute to higher water prices, Ofwat warned.

The figure does not factor in bills unpaid for less than 12 months, which amounted to £446m for 2005-6. Over that period water companies spent £78m on managing debt, amounting to £3.59 per household.

Ofwat plans to review its guidelines for dealing with indebted customers, and has issued a Consultation on the subject.

Ofwat’s figures on household debt in the water industry, issues on Friday, can be found here.

Current Guidelines for dealing with customers in debt can be found here.

Goska Romanowicz

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