Water Debt and Disconnection


Some 2 million households fall into arrears with their water bills each year and in 1994 12,500 ended up disconnected from their water supply. This high level of disconnection has caused widespread public concern for those families deprived of an essential basic service. Yet little detailed empirical information is available about just how many people cannot pay their bills, who gets into arrears, and why.

Alicia Herbert and Elaine Kempson analyse the reasons why households face such financial difficulties, and how the water companies responded to them. They also describe the circumstances of people who were cut off from their supply, and how they managed without water. Finally, they explore a range of policy options and strategies which can be developed to tackle the problem of water debt and disconnection in the future.