Water company wants to punish non-payers

The water company which supplies Northamptonshire has called for a change in the law to allow it to introduce 'trickle meters' for customers who refuse to pay their bills.

Water companies are not allowed to cut off customers who do not pay their bills but Anglian Water said introducing the meters, which reduce water flow, would act as a deterrent for people who refuse to pay their bills.

Speaking on Radio Four's You and Yours on Wednesday, Andrew Mackintosh, of Anglian Water, said: "The whole point of it really is having a deterrent, that's what we don't have at the moment."

Mr Mackintosh said there was a distinction between customers who struggled to pay their bills and those who outright refused to do so.

Tony Smith, from the Consumer Council for Water, said such a scheme could have public health implications and also an effect on those living nearby to a property where a trickle meter was installed.

But Mr Mackintosh said: "It would be the very end resort. We need that extra element, a deterrent for customers who refuse to pay and the rest of us pick up the pieces."

Trickle meters would allow people to fill their kettles or flush their toilets, but flow would be restricted from the road. Anglian Water said they had the support of other water companies and would lobby the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the hope of securing a change in the law.

Debts of 150m had been accumulated by people who refused to pay, which added 11 onto each customer's bill.

Prior to 1999 water companies were allowed to cut off customers who did not pay their bills.