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Water bills to rise in England and Wales

Water bills to rise in England and Wales

CONSUMER COUNCIL FOR WATER News Release (CCWater 04/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 18 February 2009

Water bills across England and Wales are set to rise by an average of 4.1 per cent including inflation, increasing the average bill to £342 a year (see table for each company's average bill increase).

Because of the way that water prices are set, these price increases were agreed by the regulator, Ofwat, back in 2004 to provide water companies with funding to invest in upgrading their networks, leakage control, customer service and environment improvements.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: "Any price increase will be a concern for customers in the current economic climate, and we recognise that many customers may struggle to keep up with these bill rises.

"In 2004 Defra predicted that more than one in ten customers would struggle to afford the prices being announced today, because, for these households, water bills would make up more than three per cent of income after tax.

"We have been pressing the government to address the issue by providing more help through the tax and benefits system for customers struggling to pay their water bills, and we are working actively with the government's current review of charging and affordability of water.

"Customers have told us that they are unhappy with year on year above inflation price increases, and since we were set up in 2005, we have called for water companies to give something back to consumers from their profits. We are encouraged that Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Yorkshire Water, Wessex Water, United Utilities, and Thames Water all answered our call. This resulted in £130 million in reduced prices, help for vulnerable customers, and extra investments to benefit consumers.

"Water companies, Ofwat, the Consumer Council for Water, and other regulators are now in discussions that will set prices for 2010 to 2015, and we are working hard to make sure that water prices for the next five years deliver good value for money and are acceptable to customers."

Ends

Average household bills in 2009/10 a)

Company              Water        Sewerage         Total change
                           Value Change    Value Change  Value Change
                               £      £        £      £      £      %
      Water and sewerage companies
      Anglian Water          174      7      219     10     17   4.6%
      Dwr Cymru b            170      6      233     11     17   4.3%
      Northumbrian Water (incl. Essex & Suffolk)
      Northumbrian           130      2      168      4      7   2.2%
      Essex & Suffolkc       168      4                      4   2.3%
      Severn Trent Water     153      7      151      7     15   5.0%
      South West Water       206      7      283     -2      4   0.9%
      Southern Water         127      4      243     15     20   5.6%
      Thames Water           178      4      117      3      7   2.4%
      United Utilities       172      7      205     11     19   5.3%
      Wessex Water           202      8      210     12     20   5.1%
      Yorkshire Water        153      4      177      9     13   4.0%
                                                        Change  only)
                                                        (water
      Water only companies                                   £
      Bournemouth & West     136     -3                     -3  -1.8%
      Hampshire Water
      Bristol Water          157      5                      5   3.4%
      Cambridge Water        116      3                      3   2.9%
      Dee Valley Water       130      4                      4   3.2%
      Folkestone & Dover     182     -1                     -1  -0.3%
      Water
      Mid Kent Water         171     13                     13   7.9%
      Portsmouth Water        92      3                      3   3.5%
      South East Water       169      5                      5   3.0%
      South Staffordshire    123      4                      4   3.6%
      Water
      Sutton & East Surrey   161      2                      2   1.1%
      Water
      Tendring Hundred       176      3                      3   1.6%
      Water
      Three Valleys Water    166      5                      5   3.1%
                                                         Total change
      Industry average       163      5      180      8     13   4.1% 


a) The % included in this table includes a rate of inflation of 3 per cent.
b) Dwr Cymru Welsh Water prices include a £22 dividend for all water and sewerage customers - £11 for each service.
c) The % change for Essex and Suffolk is for water only bills.

Please note: some % figures may not add up due to rounding

Table provided by Ofwat

Notes for editors

1. The table shows the average bill increase for all customers by company area, irrespective of the method of charging; metered or rateable value. Individual customer's bill increases depend on either the rateable value of the property (if they are unmeasured) or on how much water they use (if they are measured - metered). In a company where there are a significant percentage of the customers on meters, there can be a wide range between the average measured and the average unmeasured bills. Check with your local company to get more detailed information of the effects of the bill increases on different customer groups.

2. Water and sewerage prices for customers in England and Wales covering the period 2010 to 2015 will be announced in November 2009.

3. There are ways that customers can save money off their water bills. Examples are having a meter installed, fixing leaking taps, installing a water saving device in toilets, taking showers instead of baths and collecting rainwater for use in the garden. More money saving tips are available at http://www.ccwater.org.uk

The Consumer Council for Water

1. The Consumer Council for Water was set up in October 2005 to represent consumers in England and Wales.

2. The Consumer Council for Water costs each water customer 25p per year.

3. The Consumer Council for Water has gained £130 million from water companies in reduced prices and extra investments to benefit consumers.

4. The Consumer Council for Water has to date taken up over 42,000 consumer complaints about water and sewerage companies, and secured £4 million in compensation and rebates for customers.

5. The Consumer Council for Water is a non-departmental public body reporting to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Assembly Government. It has a committee for Wales, and four regional committees in England.

6. Our website is http://www.ccwater.org.uk.

For public enquiries to the Consumer Council for Water, please contact via email on enquiries@ccwater.org.uk, our phone number, 0845 039 2837, or via minicom on 0121 345 1044.

The Consumer Council for Water
Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4AJ

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