Household water bills in England and Wales to rise by 7.5% from April
(Alliance News) – Households in England and Wales will see the biggest rise in their water bills in almost 20 years from April when they rise to an average of GBP448 a year.
Industry body Water UK said the 7.5% rise would see customers pay around GBP1.23 a day on average – an increase of 8p a day or an average of GBP31 more on last year’s charges.
Consumer groups have warned that the increase could prove a tipping point for the one in five customers who are already struggling to pay.
But Water UK argued that water bills remained lower in real terms than they were a decade ago and said this year’s rise reflected higher energy costs, with water firms using around 2% of the nation’s electricity.
Firms had to invest a further GBP70 billion to “eliminate damage” from storm overflows and increase water supplies by building new reservoirs and national water transfer schemes, he said, adding that they ” well aware of the impact of price rises on lower income and vulnerable customers’ and have recently increased the level of support they offer by over GBP200 million.
UK Water policy director Stuart Colville said: “With an average increase of around 60p a week, most customers will again see a below-inflation rise in their bill of their water However, we know that any increase is undesirable, particularly at the moment.
“That’s why companies are also releasing an extra GBP200 million to help those who may be struggling.
“Anyone with concerns should contact their water company or go to supportontap.org for advice, and it’s worth remembering that water companies will never cut anyone off, or force them to use a water meter. advance payment.
“Next year’s accounts will support what is already the highest level of investment on record, with a further GBP70 billion to be spent over the coming years to build new reservoirs and end overflows in the rivers.”
The Consumer Council for Water said regional variations and factors such as whether a customer is metered and how much water they use mean some households could face increases significantly above – or below – the average.
And he said the postcode lottery of social charging schemes meant many customers who could not afford their bill “slip through the net”.
CCW Chief Executive Emma Clancy said: “Water is essential for all of us so no one should be worried about being able to pay their bill. These increases will bring more uncertainty to families who are they struggle at a time when they cannot be sure that they will get the help they need.
“Low-income households need immediate relief and the long-term security of knowing their water bill will be affordable.
“It’s not fair that struggling families face a postcode lottery when it comes to getting help on their bill – that’s why we urgently need a new water affordability scheme that provides consistent needs-based support the people.”
Jess Cook, water poverty lead at National Energy Action, said: “Social tariffs are essential for low-income families. Discounted water bills for those struggling to pay can stop the most vulnerable from cutting back or to carry the debt when they cannot afford to do so.
“But the current postcode lottery means where you live affects what you pay and what support you get, and the Secretary of State, Therese Coffey, has suggested that fixing this is not one of her top priorities.
“With water bills rising an average of 7.5% during this cost of living crisis, it is vital more than ever that access to a social tariff should be made fairer, more consistent, and accessible to all who needs it, regardless of where they live. .”
Ofwat Chief Executive David Black said: “We know times are tough and customers who are already struggling will be worried if they see their water bill go up, so companies must double down to support those who need a helping hand.
“Kind words mean nothing unless they are backed up with action, which is why we were delighted to see the recent surge in support.”
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