§ Mr. Higgins
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the cost of direct customer billing for water supplies instead of the levying of charges for water and sewerage charges by councils as agents for the water authorities; which water authorities intend to introduce such arrangements; and what is his policy with regard to such a change.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
I have advised water authorities to pay close attention, when contemplating the extension of direct billing, to the need to avoid an634W increase in the combined expenditures of water authority and rating authorities. But it is necessary to balance the immediate costs of direct billing against such factors as improved cash flow for the water authority and savings in commission charges and the net cost will depend upon local circumstances. All water authorities already bill some consumers direct for some of their services and most are planning or contemplating further direct billing.