Water poverty is conventionally defined as households spending more than 3% and 5% of their net income after housing costs on water. Water bills have risen faster than general prices and faster than earnings since privatisation. In 2018/19 21% of households paying for water in England and Wales were spending more than 3% of their income on water and sewerage and 10.0% were spending more than 5% of their income. If income is equivalised the water poverty rates remain the similar but the composition of water-poor households changes. The paper explores variation in water poverty and prospects for the future. If water bills rise 3% per year faster than household income, water poverty will increase to 34% by 2033 based on a 3% definition. Policy options are discussed.
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|Published - 1 Jun 2021