Birmingham, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- February 19, 2008 – The U.K. Consumer Council for Water, a statutory body representing water consumers in England and Wales, has welcomed Thames Water's decision to implement a fairer system of charging that applies only to customers who have requested a water meter but are unable to have one installed.

Metering is the fairest way of paying for water, as metered customers pay in relation to the water they use. Switching to a meter particularly benefits small households and those with comparatively low water use. Anyone can ask for a water meter to be installed free of charge, but some properties are unable to be metered for a number of reasons, such as having shared pipes.

Thames Water's new charges, which affect about one per cent of their customers, will allow households that have been told they cannot have a meter the option of paying an amount which is more closely related to their estimated water use.

Until now any Thames customers who were unable to switch to a meter were only given the option of paying the equivalent of the average metered bill, called the Average Household Charge. Homes with only one or two residents would not have benefited greatly, if at all, by transferring to this tariff. The new tiered charging approach means that those customers who wanted to go to a meter because they would have saved money by doing so will now be offered the option of paying an amount that is more closely linked to their likely water use.

The new system, called the Assessed Household Charge, places properties in one of three bands, based on the number of bedrooms at the property. Properties with one or two bedrooms will now pay less than the current charge of £245 ($478), which has been frozen for the last two years. With just under 24,000 properties falling into these bands, there will be savings for around 63 percent of customers currently on the Average Household Charge, typically those living on their own, or in small flats. Customers with properties of three bedrooms or more are expected to see a slight increase in their charges to around £266 ($520). Customers who would not save under the scheme have the option to switch to the old unmetered charge, based on the rateable value of their property.

Karen Gibbs, policy manager for the Consumer Council for Water, said: "We welcome the changes because they are more likely to reflect a household's water usage and have encouraged Thames to adopt this method of charging. We would encourage customers who applied for a water meter in the past to contact Thames to see if the new charging system will benefit them."