Can they buy their new boilers in an online auction? Can new residents use the water during a drought?
At the moment people do have to pay for water on the council network — a £4.1m fee for customers using less than 20% of their allotments.
The government is now looking at changes which would allow councils to do both
The money is earmarked for the council’s water supply system, including for the supply of the water that goes into homes.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We welcome the commitment of local authorities to a universal basic service but we recognise the difficulties facing residents and councils with limited capacity.’
It emerged yesterday that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was planning to move further in what it called a ‘bespoke’ policy of using information technology to help councils.
In a consultation document seen by the Independent, DCLG said: ‘To allow councils to better service their residents and business, DCLG would consider, for the first time, using information technology, such as mobile devices, to identify potential problems with their local water network. This will provide opportunities for the management of water supply issues in a real time way.’
The DCLG confirmed the document is an internal document and not one issued to public.
The document suggests the Government was keen to work on the issue of universal water service in the wake of the floods which left more than 120,000 people without access to safe drinking water for at least five days.
But it also warned of the problems encountered as council residents complained of water cuts and delays, and the need to get more money into the system.
It said that the cost of water is rising because of rising demand at homes, factories and schools.
It comes after ministers agreed in December to introduce a new water price in January 2014 and to move the water company off the council water network.
Last night, Mr Wilson admitted ministers had ‘lost interest in the universal basic service’ and wanted a ‘big chunk’ increased from the current £3.15bn – a figure that campaigners have suggested will be too little to make a significant difference.
It now costs £5.1bn a year to supply London and the South East, which combined make up 80% of the UK’s water users. Mr Wilson said: ‘We don’t need more, but we may have lost interest in the universal basic service.’
He said he had
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