Customers in England and Wales will be concerned to see increases to bills, following an announcement today (31 Jan 2011) from water regulator, Ofwat, says watchdog the Consumer Council for Water.
In 2009, Ofwat announced that average water bills would, in real terms, remain broadly flat until 2015, but the impact of a higher than forecast inflation rate of around 5% (RPI) for the last two years means water customers are paying more than they might have expected.
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: Under the system of regulation, water companies are allowed to add inflation to the price limits agreed with Ofwat.
However, in the current economic climate, many customers are struggling with rising household bills and the level of water debt is growing.
Companies need to tell their customers very clearly what they are getting for their money and to help customers who are having difficulty paying their bill.
We will be working with companies and the regulator throughout the next price review to ensure that future water prices are acceptable and affordable. We will also applaud those companies who are currently exploring different ways of mitigating the impact of inflation on their customers.
Anyone struggling to pay their water bill should contact their company immediately. They can usually offer more flexible payment options, such as weekly or monthly payment plans. In some cases they may also be able to help through special assistance funds, or schemes to help eligible customers reduce their water bills.
While all household bills (metered and unmetered) will increase, low consumption or single households could be saving money by having a water meter installed. Customers can find out if they could save money by switching to metered charges.