Ofwat: Strategic Priorities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 9th June 2022.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:26 pm, 9th June 2022

I thank the hon. Member, and I did write to her; that is right. Obviously, the Chancellor has already announced a whole package of measures to help households with the cost of living, and we do expect the water companies to play their part. All water companies actually have social tariffs in place, as she will know, to support customers who struggle to pay their bills, and close to 1 million customers currently receive that help. My Department is exploring other measures that we may look at to improve this whole sector. I cannot give more detail now, but we are very aware of it.

I want to refer to some of the other excellent contributions to the debate. I am so pleased that my hon. Friend Anna Firth mentioned wet wipes. Shockingly, wet wipes make up 93% of the material that causes sewerage blockages. That is partly why storm sewage overflows are used so often: they are blocked up by wet wipes which have been chucked down the loo. [Interruption.] Yes, and there are horrified looks; I am sure Madam Deputy Speaker does not do that. The cost of dealing with that to the water industry is £100 million a year. We are considering options and we have consulted on what action we might take. It is also important to remember that wet wipes contain plastics.