This briefing is prepared for MPs and their staff to aid in their scrutiny of the Water Bill 2013 at its Second Reading on 25 November 2013. It provides briefing on key issues; additional briefing is available to MPs and their staff upon request.
Justification for the Bill
Water resources are under significant pressure in parts of the UK and water supply constraints are predicted to spread in future. Future investment in the sector may place considerable upward pressure on water bills.
The main provisions
The Water Bill aims to deliver more resilient water supplies and lead to cheaper and more efficient management of water resources in the longer term. The provisions include:
• extending competition by enabling all non-household customers to choose their water and sewerage supplier and enabling more companies to provide water and sewerage services;
• a new flood insurance scheme for domestic properties; and
• a new duty for the regulator to focus on the long-term resilience of water supplies.
There is widespread support for many aspects of the Bill. However, concerns have been raised that domestic customers may be disadvantaged by the reforms, that water companies may discriminate against new market entrants, and that the Bill may contribute to unsustainable abstraction. The Government believes that it has effectively managed these risks.
There have also been calls for additional provisions that address water affordability problems in the short term and concerns about corporate practices in the sector.