Water consumers paid more and got less, new report suggests

The champion for water consumers in England and Wales today urged water companies to get back on track in giving consumers what they have paid for. The water industry spent £3.4bn in 2005-06, compared to the £4.3bn expected by Ofwat, the financial regulator. Bill rises last year, averaging 12%, were meant to meet the costs of increased spending on large-scale improvements.

Yet according to today’s Ofwat report, Financial performance and expenditure of the water companies in England and Wales 2005-06’, water companies have been slow getting the new projects off the launchpad. The Consumer Council for Water is pushing companies to deliver clear benefits to consumers, at the speed that they have promised.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Delayed projects have an impact on consumers. We know that it is only the first year in a five-year investment period and the industry has time to catch up. However, this is an awful lot of money and it translates into projects and programmes like work on water mains renewals and improving sewers.”

Dame Yve added: “Companies must deliver consumer confidence as well as investor confidence. They must demonstrate that they are providing value for money and delivering improved services.

“At national level, consumers have every right to ask whether they have got what they paid for from the industry. To many, it will appear that they are paying more and getting less. We will press companies to ensure that this pattern doesn’t continue.”

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