Consumer Council for Water
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Water watchdog welcomes proposed deal on water prices

Water watchdog welcomes proposed deal on water prices

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 23 July 2009

The Consumer Council for Water is pleased that the regulator, Ofwat, seems to have listened to customers when putting together its draft decisions on water price limits in England and Wales from 2010 to 2015.

Ofwat is proposing that, before taking inflation into account, bills reduce for many customers across England and Wales, bringing the average annual water and sewerage bill down from £344 to £330 by 2015. However, because prices vary from company to company, customers in different areas could face a range of price changes from a reduction in average annual bills as much as 14 per cent, to an increase in bills of 9 per cent before inflation over the five years.1

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “This is the first time that the Consumer Council for Water, as an independent body representing water customers, has been involved in the price setting process. We have been negotiating hard, pushing each water company and Ofwat to develop plans that will deliver what consumers want at a reasonable price.

“We are pleased to see that by and large it looks as though Ofwat listened to us and to customers when putting together draft decisions on water prices. Today’s announcement should be seen as reasonable by many customers.

“However, customers must remember that these are average prices, so changes in water bills could vary from company to company and customer to customer, depending on their circumstances. Over the next month we will take time to go through Ofwat’s draft decisions in detail to understand the full package of what customers are getting.

“We would not want lower prices to mean an unacceptable reduction in service to customers, and we want to be sure that those areas consumers told us are their priorities have not been reduced, or cut altogether from the companies’ plans, and that there are no hidden surprises that could mean higher prices in the future.

“Even if prices are to go down overall, there is still an issue of affordability for many water customers. When we ask ‘are your water bills affordable?’ one in five customers tells us no. We are concerned that a reduction in prices still isn’t enough to solve the problem, and we will continue to press government to provide better support for these people.

“We will be asking customers what they think of Ofwat’s draft decisions through customer research, and we would also welcome anyone to give us their views by visiting www.ccwater.org.uk.

“We will make customers’ views known to Ofwat to make sure that the regulator continues to take consumers’ priorities into account when they make their final decision on prices in November.”

Notes for editors

1. Average water bills are an average of both metered and unmetered customers. Price increases for individual customers may vary, depending on how much water they use, if they have a water meter, or if they do not have a water meter, the rateable value of their home.

2. Today marks the third stage in a price setting process which takes place every five years. Ofwat will evaluate feedback on today’s draft decisions from each company, the Consumer Council for Water and other stakeholders, and in November make a final decision on the maximum amount water companies will be able to charge their customers until 2015.

3. Company specific research into customers’ willingness to pay is available at www.ccwater.org.uk/upload/pdf/PR09_Company_Report_England_Final.pdf.

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

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

6. The Consumer Council for Water has gained £135 million from water companies in reduced prices and extra investments.

7. The Consumer Council for Water has to date taken up 60,000 consumer complaints about water and sewerage companies, and secured £6 million in compensation and rebates for customers.

8. 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 committees in England.

9. Our website is www.ccwater.org.uk.

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

Media contact: Amy Weiser on 0121 345 1006 or 07778 160808

Draft water company average bills 2009-10 to 2014-15 Figures are taken directly from Ofwat’s draft determinations If your having problems viewing the above table visit:
http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.aspx?ReleaseID=405128&NewsAreaID=2&ClientID=276

Notes to Editors

Contacts:

NDS Enquiries
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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