Phil Woolas laid before Parliament on 21 July the first progress report under s.81 of the Water Industry Act 1991. The first report, which outlines the steps Government proposes to take in the future, was due to cover the three year period from 1 April 2004 – 31 March 2007. However, the drought of 2004-06 together with the subsequent development, with stakeholders, of a new water strategy for England has delayed its production. Therefore this first report covers the period 1 April 2004 – 31 March 2008.

The report’s executive summary includes the following:

11. Good progress has also been made in relation to homes during this reporting period, not least through the Water Saving Group which has made a significant contribution towards driving greater water efficiency in households. In addition, from 1st April 2008 all social housing funded through the Housing Corporation has to be built to level 3 (105 l/p/d) of the Code for Sustainable Homes. We have also implemented mandatory ratings against the Code for Sustainable Homes for all new build homes from 1st May this year.

12. There have also been some important developments in the industrial and commercial sector including: the publication of the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy in April 2006 and the Sustainable Construction Strategy in June this year; the introduction of the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme; and the continued good work of Envirowise on providing practical water efficiency advice to businesses. The work of the Water Saving Group has also been expanded to review the measures currently in place to promote water efficiency in the industrial and commercial sector and to consider what further actions might be necessary and appropriate.

13. Looking ahead, the Government will continue to focus on the six areas outlined above. Defra will work closely with the European Commission and other EU member states on the follow-up to the July 2007 Communication on Water Scarcity and Droughts and will commission an independent review of charging. The Water Saving Group will also continue to make progress on its revised action plan, as agreed at the November 2007 meeting of the high-level group. 14. With respect to domestic demand, we will amend the Building Regulations to include a requirement for a minimum standard of water efficiency in new homes, in the form of a calculated whole building performance standard set at 125/p/d, by 1 April 2009 and will work to identify measures that could be introduced to improve the water efficiency of existing homes. We will also review the Water Supply (Fittings) Regulations 1999 later this year, with a view to setting new performance standards for key water fittings.