The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has responded to today’s announcement by the regulator Ofwat over its draft price and service plans for three water companies.
Ofwat has shared its initial view on what Severn Trent, United Utilities and South West Water should be allowed to charge their customers from 2020 to 2025, in return for a five-year package of investment in the essential services they provide.
The three companies are receiving their draft determinations ahead of the rest of the industry after being fast-tracked to the next stage of the price-setting process by the regulator, as a reward for submitting the strongest business plans.
CCWater – which represents all consumers in England and Wales – will now be carrying out research with customers of all three companies to see whether they think the regulator’s proposals are acceptable. The Water Watchdog will use the findings to influence Ofwat’s final decisions on company price limits, service commitments and investment in December 2019.
Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Customers should be the judge of whether these proposals are acceptable which is why we’ll be asking households to give us their verdict – if they don’t like what they see, we expect the regulator to make changes.”
“Our research suggests Ofwat could still go slightly further in reducing bills, without eating into the essential investment that every company in England and Wales has promised. Companies should also make clear what impact inflation and the regulatory rewards that customers pay for will have on their bills.”
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CCWater commissioned an independent study reviewing the cost to water companies of raising the finance they need. The report suggests Ofwat may be able to set a lower assumption of these costs than its initial view in December 2017, helping to shave more money off customers’ bills. You can read the report here