Jonathan Bradshaw

Research in progress

Water Affordability in England and Wales

Water Consumer Council
June 2008-March 2009
Carolyn Snell and Jonathan Bradshaw

The burden of increasing energy prices on poorer households is acknowledged by both policy makers and academics. Policies to ensure that households are still able to use sufficient energy have been developed alongside measures that encourage energy efficiency (with both cost and environmental benefits). However water costs have been rising in real terms without any special measures to mitigate them. This increase is the result of tightening legislation and water scarcity, and this trend is expected to continue.

CC Water commissioned us to assess mechanisms within the tax and benefits system that might enable equitable access to water supplies by those defined as water poor. This research consisted of two elements, first, a review of existing knowledge on water poverty, including an overview of existing forms of help for those struggling to pay water bills. The second part of this research focused on an analysis of the Family Resources Survey (FRS) to investigate the extent of water poverty in England and Wales, and the characteristics of households in water poverty. It also considers the possibility of using a mechanism within the tax and benefits system to address this.


Snell, C. and Bradshaw, J. (2009) Water Affordability in England and Wales: A report prepared for CCWater

Bradshaw, J. (2008) Who is fuel poor? Poverty 131, Autumn 2008 pp9-11.