Water Bill swamped with competition not flood protection

MPs believe new water sector legislation won’t do enough to protect homes and businesses from flooding. New laws which would boost competition in the new Water Bill today got a […]

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By Vicky Ellis

MPs believe new water sector legislation won’t do enough to protect homes and businesses from flooding.

New laws which would boost competition in the new Water Bill today got a cautious welcome from MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

However they say in a new report the Government has been “too slow” to bring in changes which will make people less at risk from the damage of flooding.

More people should be using water meters, say MPs, while the Government must take care more competition for business customers will not be paid for by consumers.

“Business customers have been pressing for greater competition for some years and are understandably keen that the reforms maintain momentum. We welcome the Government’s commitment to opening the retail market in 2017 but the Bill must make clear that householders will be protected from cross-subsidising the business market,” states the report.

Committee Chair and Conservative MP Anne McIntosh said: “New laws will increase competition in the retail water market and while we welcome those changes, Government must get on with implementing changes that would reduce flooding—many of which were recommended nearly five years ago.”

The Draft Water Bill is meant to be introduced in Parliament in May later this year, with the Act not due until Autumn at the earliest. The MPs also complain too much detail is being left for regulator Ofwat to sort out and won’t get the same scrutiny as it would if were in primary legislation.