Water bills rise across the UK as £50 discount for South West Water customers comes into force
The average household water and sewerage bill in England and Wales is forecast to increase by 3.5%, or about £13.
This takes into account a rate of inflation of 3.1%, and will mean an average bill of £388 in 2013/14.
But South West Water bills in Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall will fall by more than seven per cent - as a Government contribution of £50 a year kicks in from April.
Without the new Government discount Plymouth water bills would increase by two per cent, an extra £10.
Even with the discount, water bills in the South West are still the highest in the country.
In 2009 Ofwat made its decision on how much water and sewerage companies could charge customers between 2010 –15.
Since 2009/10, the average bill has risen slightly below (by 0.7%) the rate of inflation.
Regina Finn, Ofwat Chief Executive Officer said:
“Customers can’t choose their supplier. It’s our job to make sure they are protected. Back in 2009, companies wanted bills rises of 10 per cent above inflation. That didn’t chime with what customers told us they wanted, so we said they could only increase bills in-line with inflation.
“We understand that there is huge pressure on household incomes, and any rise is unwelcome. Inflation is driving these increases.
“These rises will help pay for investment of around £1000 for every household in England and Wales. This will deliver real benefits - from continuing to improve the reliability of supplies to dealing with the misery of sewer flooding for thousands of customers.
“We will make sure customers get value for money, and if companies fall short in delivering their investment promises, we will take action. In the past seven years, we have made companies pay out around £550 million where they have underperformed.”
The bill changes for this year will come into effect on 1 April 2013 and apply until 31 March 2014. The impact of the new charges will vary for individual household customers depending on the company that supplies them and whether or not they have a water meter.
South West Water has today confirmed its £168 million investment and charges package for 2013/14 – part of a £700 million plus programme between 2010 and 2015 which supports 4,500 jobs in the wider, regional economy.
Investment highlights for 2013/14 include:
* Upgrades to water treatment works, reservoirs, and pipe networks supplying Plymouth, West Cornwall, South East Cornwall, Okehampton and South Devon
* Upgrading waste water treatment works serving Plymstock, Plymouth, West Devon, Kingsbridge and Torpoint
* Offering more apprenticeship opportunities for South West youngsters
Around 700,000 household customers of South West Water will soon see a new item titled ‘Government Contribution’ on their bills confirming a £50 annual reduction will be applied from this April.
This flat rate deduction, a pledge within the Coalition’s original working agreement, will be paid every year to 2020 and means the average annual household bill for water and sewerage in South West Water’s service area will fall by 7.3% to £499 at a time when water and energy bills elsewhere are still rising.
Around 13,000 customers switching to a meter are also forecast to reduce their bills by an average of between £300 and £400 this year. Exact charges paid by customers will vary according to the services they use, their tariff, the rateable value of their property or the amount of water they use.
South West Water Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: “It’s vital we continue to invest because having up-to-date water and sewerage infrastructure is just as important as good rail and road links and high speed broadband. We know what we do underpins the quality of life we all enjoy in the South West and also helps local businesses grow.
“We know the cost in the past of modernising particularly our sewerage network has been high for customers which is why we are particularly pleased the £50 reduction will be implemented from this year onward.
“Thank you to the Government and Defra for making the reduction a reality and thanks to everyone including MPs of all parties, the Consumer Council for Water, pensioner groups and the regional media who together with thousands of individual customers helped build a successful case for the region alongside us over many years.
"Household customers will have the reduction automatically and clearly applied to their bills. They need take no action, just look out for the line 'Government Contribution' on your bill during 2013/14."