Deal on water bills and service is a victory for customers, says watchdog

THE CONSUMER Council for Water says today’s (Friday) final decisions by the regulator Ofwat on what water companies can charge customers from 2015 to 2020 represents a significant victory for the voice of the customer.

Ofwat has confirmed the average household water and sewerage bill1 in England and Wales will fall by around 5 per cent from £396 in 2014/15 to £376 by 2020, before inflation is added.

Tony Smith, chief executive of CCWater, said: “This is good news and a victory for most water customers whose views have shaped water pricing more than ever before. Most water companies and the regulator have listened to customers and delivered a deal which reflects the services they want, at a price most find acceptable.”

“But customers need to be aware that water companies are allowed to add inflation to bills each year which means charges are still likely to rise from what they are now. That will hurt some households. Support exists for customers who are struggling to pay, and we will be pressing every water company to ensure these schemes reach those who need help.”

“CCWater will also keep a close eye on every water company’s performance to ensure they deliver on the commitments they’ve made to customers on service and investment.”

CCWater is concerned that it remains unclear what impact the Thames Tideway Tunnel will have on the bills of Thames Water customers. Although Thames Water’s average bill will fall by 5 per cent before inflation is added, this does not include the full cost of the Tunnel project which has yet to be finalised

Mr Smith added: “One in five water customers already tell us their water bill is not affordable so the cost of the Tunnel may yet prove a tipping point for those already struggling to pay.”

Today’s announcement marks the end of a long process which has seen CCWater and customer challenge groups2 negotiating hard with water companies and Ofwat to deliver a deal on price, service and investment that reflects what customers accept and can afford.

Read full details of Ofwat’s final decisions on water company prices and services

1 These figures relate to the average household water and sewerage bill but charges will vary considerably depending on the water company and each customer’s circumstances.

2 Customer Challenge Groups were set up by Ofwat for this Price Review in response to CCWater’s calls for more customer involvement in scrutinising prices.

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