Home Business News Water bills set to rise despite some companies having ‘a track record of failure’

Water bills set to rise despite some companies having ‘a track record of failure’

by LLB staff reporter
11th Jul 24 12:57 pm

Under draft proposals by Ofwat household water bills will rise by £19 a year over five years, however water companies are wanting an average of £144 in the same period.

Severn Trent have said they want a price hike of £144, but this has been cut to £93 and Thames Water proposed an increase of £191 by 2030, this was reduced to £99.

Ofwat chief executive David Black said: “Customers want to see radical change in the way water companies care for the environment. Our draft decisions on company plans approve a tripling of investment to make sustained improvement to customer service and the environment at a fair price for customers.

“These proposals aim to deliver a 44% reduction in spills from storm overflows compared to levels in 2021. We expect all companies to embrace innovation and go further and faster to reduce spills wherever possible.

“Today’s announcement also increases the resilience of our water supplies to the impact of climate change and will reduce how much water is taken from rivers by enabling a range of long-term water supply projects, which includes plans for nine reservoirs.

“Let me be very clear to water companies – we will be closely scrutinising the delivery of their plans and will hold them to account to deliver real improvements to the environment and for customers and on their investment programmes.”

Mike Keil, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said: “Millions of people will feel upset and anxious at the prospect of these water bill rises and question the fairness of them given some water companies’ track record of failure and poor service.

“Customers understand investment is urgently needed but they need reassurance that every pound of their money is going to be well spent.

“Trust in water companies has never been lower and that won’t change until people see and experience a difference – whether that’s having the confidence to swim at their favourite beach or receiving help if they are struggling to pay their bill.

“We estimate about two million households in England and Wales currently cannot afford their water bill and, while the increase in financial assistance is welcome, it falls short of what is needed.

“Over the summer we’ll be carrying out research with customers of every water company to gauge whether they feel the regulator’s proposals are affordable and deliver what people want. We expect Ofwat to listen and act on what customers tell us.”

A Water UK spokesman said: “Today’s announcement is the biggest ever cut in investment by Ofwat. If it doesn’t put this right Ofwat will be repeating the mistakes of the past. As a direct result, more housing will be blocked, the recovery of our rivers will be slower and we will fail to deal with the water shortages we know are coming.

“Water companies proposed to invest £105 billion because it is the minimum needed to meet the legitimate concerns we’ve heard from the public about our environment and our economy.

“Ofwat is right to want to ensure customers receive value for money and that is why protections are in place to ensure customers only pay for projects that are new, necessary and value for money.

“But for far too long, Ofwat has failed to be realistic about the levels of investment needed and what it will take to deliver and maintain necessary infrastructure. We cannot allow this pattern to repeat itself.

“Water companies are ready to invest in an unprecedented overhaul of the country’s water and sewage infrastructure. Ofwat now needs to let them get on with it.”

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