THE GROWING influence customers have over what they pay for their water and sewerage services is reflected in today’s announcement on water bills for 2015/16, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
The annual publication of charges by Water UK has revealed the average water and sewerage bill in England and Wales will fall by £9 from £394 to £385 in 2015/16 – a 2 per cent reduction.
The figures show average bills but what customers actually end up paying will vary depending on individual circumstances. That may mean some customers pay more or less than the average bill for their company.
Today’s announcement marks the first wave of charges under a new five year price setting deal which was finalised by the industry’s regulator Ofwat in December. Customers’ views have had a greater impact than ever before in shaping what water companies can charge and the services they are expected to deliver.
Tony Smith, Chief Executive of CCWater, said: “This is good news for most households and reflects how the water industry has listened to what customers want on price and service
“But affordability remains a concern for many households and much more still needs to be done to ensure customers who are struggling or unable to pay their bill get the help they need. That’s why we are working with water companies to ensure they raise awareness of the assistance schemes they can offer customers who urgently need support.”
Customers whose sewerage services are provided by a different company to their water supplier need to take into account the combined impact this will have on their bill. This is particularly important for sewerage customers served by Thames Water. They will see the biggest rise in wastewater charges – partly to help fund the development of the Thames Tideway Tunnel – with an average increase of £12. This means some customers of water-only companies could still see their overall bill rise, despite a reduction in their water charges.
Households who are already struggling to pay their water bill are being urged by CCWater to get in contact with their water company and ask for help. Recent research by the water watchdog revealed some customers in financial difficulty continue to suffer in silence, or are unaware of the help available to them. That’s despite most water companies offering more flexible payment options or assistance schemes to help those that cannot afford their bill.