Moves to ease pressure on water bills is step in the right direction, says watchdog
EFFORTS by some water companies to dilute bill increases in 2014/15 mark another step in the right direction for customers, says the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
Today it was announced the majority of water companies in England and Wales will keep bill increases below inflation for 2014/15 – meaning the average household water and sewerage bill will rise by £8 from £385 to £393.
CCWater has been among those leading the call for water companies to do more to ease the burden on their customers at a time when many face growing pressure on household budgets.
And it welcomes efforts made by South West Water and Sembcorp Bournemouth Water to cut bills this year by bringing forward some of the price reductions they expect to make between 2015 and 2020.
The water watchdog is also pleased six companies have chosen not to take up their full price limits set by the regulator Ofwat at the last review of prices in 2009. These are Anglian Water; Southern Water; Wessex Water; Yorkshire Water; Affinity Water and United Utilities.
But CCWater is disappointed customers of Thames Water and water-only company Bristol Water will still face increases above inflation, at a time when one in eight water customers tell us they feel they cannot afford their water bill.
In Wales, Dee Valley Water’s average household bill for water will also increase above inflation.
Dame Yve Buckland, chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “While we are pleased some water companies have taken steps to curb bill increases, the vast majority of customers will still see an actual increase in their water bill at a time when many face difficult financial circumstances.
“Our most pressing challenge is to now make sure companies and Ofwat deliver prices for the next five years which are affordable and acceptable to customers.”
CCWater continues to challenge companies and the regulator Ofwat to deliver the best possible deal for customers when prices are set for the next five years in December.
Ten companies have made a good start to meeting this challenge by proposing below inflation increases from 2015 to 2020 in their business plans, which were submitted to Ofwat last December.
A further eight are heading in the right direction by proposing to limit future bill increases to inflation only, but CCWater is keeping up the pressure ahead of the final decision on prices by Ofwat in December.