Good start for water customers but still work to be done, says watchdog

All water companies have today (2 Dec) submitted their plans to Ofwat, the water industry regulator, outlining their proposals for water prices and services from 2015 to 2020.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has played an active role in groups set up to challenge each company’s plan on behalf of customers.

Many companies have responded well to this by delivering plans which reflect what customers have told them they want at a price they will find acceptable.

CCWater is now calling on Ofwat to build on this good start for water customers before making its final decision on prices next December.

Tony Smith, chief executive of CCWater said: “As a result of the positive challenge made by CCWater, and other members of the local customer groups, many water companies have improved their plans substantially.

“This is a good start and we now need Ofwat as economic regulator to scrutinise companies’ costs to ensure that all customers are getting the best possible deal and that future water company profits will not be excessive.”

CCWater is pleased that 10 water companies have proposed to keep bill increases below the rate of inflation for the five year period.

Eight others are heading in the right direction and are proposing to increase bills in line with inflation only.

With so many households under intense pressure from the rising cost of living, CCWater has also encouraged water companies to increase their support for those customers struggling to pay their bills.

Thames Water is the only water company based in England proposing to increase prices above inflation, with customers being asked to pay an extra £8 per year, before inflation, to help fund the Thames Tideway Tunnel. CCWater has already voiced concerns about the proposed increase and will continue to urge the company to do all it can to minimise the impact on customers’ bills.

The submission of these plans is the beginning of a new phase and Ofwat now has to scrutinise them carefully.

CCWater will be examining each company’s plans closely over the coming months to see what impact they will have on different customers and whether more can be done to support households under pressure from the rising cost of living.

A final decision by Ofwat on what prices companies can charge customers will be made next December.

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