UK water agency plans increase in water, sewerage bills

Household water and sewerage bills in England and Wales are to rise by an average of 7%, the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) has said. This comprises a hike of 3.1% in real terms, plus 3.9% for inflation. The average household water and sewerage bill for 2007-08 will jump by around GBP20 to GBP312. The impact of new charges, which come into effect April 1, will vary for individual households depending on the company supplying them and whether they have a water meter...

LONDON, UK, Feb. 28, 2007 -- Household water and sewerage bills in England and Wales are to rise by an average of 7%, the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) has said. This comprises an increase of 3.1% in real terms, plus 3.9% for inflation. The average household water and sewerage bill for 2007-08 will increase by around GBP20 to GBP312 (GBP = £).

The impact of new charges, which come into effect on 1 April 2007, will vary for individual household customers depending on the company that supplies them and whether or not they have a water meter.

Ofwat Chief Executive Regina Finn said: "We recognise that any bill increases are going to be unwelcome. But these increases are essential to ensure that customers continue to receive high quality, secure water and sewerage services both now and in the future. The increases are also partly driven by significant environmental improvements. Without the work that Ofwat has done to keep prices down customers' bills would have been higher."

Average bill increases, including inflation, will vary for each water company, from 5.7% (GBP15) for customers of Severn Trent Water to 10.1% (GBP44) for South West Water customers.

Following Ofwat's intervention, Tendring Hundred is reducing its charges in 2007-08 to compensate customers who paid more than was necessary in 2005-06 and 2006-07 because of an accounting error made by the company.

Ofwat welcomes companies' initiatives to help customers who are struggling to pay their bills. Wessex Water is introducing a new tariff aimed at customers in financial difficulty who are struggling to pay their bills. South West Water is to launch a scheme which will aim to help 7,500 customers to pay their bills over the next three years. Any customer who is having difficulty paying their bills should contact their water company to see how it can help.

Some customers, especially those with low water use living in homes with a high rateable value, would pay less if they had a water meter. Customers who think they may save should ask their company for further information on the effect that switching to a meter will have on their bills.

Ofwat will publish its annual 'Water and sewerage bills 2007-08' leaflet, which sets out average and typical bills for each company, on its website today.

The Water Services Regulation Authority is the economic regulator of water and sewerage companies in England and Wales. It exercises its powers in a way that it judges will allow companies to carry out their functions properly, and finance them. Its duties include protecting the interests of consumers, wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition.

A leaflet, "Water and sewerage bills 2007-08", will be available on the Ofwat website at www.ofwat.gov.uk. To help customers understand why bills have gone up, the agency has produced individual company briefing sheets, which are now available on the website.

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Also see:
-- "UK water agency plans increase in water, sewerage bills"
-- "Swap and save - can you beat the bill rise?"
-- "Business continuity research to inform food and drink industry"

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