There can be no doubt that the current situation on bad debt in the water industry is neither sustainable nor acceptable. It already adds about £15 to the bills of all customers who do pay, including those who are financially vulnerable.
Water companies work hard to manage bad debt, but they currently simply do not have sufficient information on who is liable for charges, particularly for rented properties where occupancy changes frequently - and about 80% of debtors live in rented properties. This makes it harder for companies to tackle the debt problem.
To reduce the burden on customers who do pay their bills, water companies need better information, available routinely, for all rented properties, not just for some properties for some of the time. That's why the government should implement as soon as possible the requirement for all landlords to provide information to water companies on who is liable for charges.
The water industry will make it straightforward for landlords to provide information to water companies by setting up an easy to use website, but the alternative voluntary approach proposed in the government consultation just won't work.