Media contact: Charlene Stevens on 0121 345 1006 or 07778 160808
Many water customers in England and Wales may be surprised by the increases to bills announced today (25 February 2011) by water regulator, Ofwat, says watchdog the Consumer Council for Water.
In 2009, Ofwat announced that average water bills would, in real terms, remain broadly flat until 2015, but the impact of an inflation rate of almost 5% will mean many water customers paying more – and water companies enjoying an unexpected financial gain.
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Under the current system of regulation, water companies are allowed to add inflation to the price limits agreed with Ofwat.
“We recognise that water companies are facing some additional costs in other areas and that there are ‘swings and roundabouts’ on this issue. However many water companies and their shareholders will benefit from higher inflation.
“Many customers are struggling with rising household and other bills and debt is rising. Already one in six customers tells us that they cannot afford their water bill. The bill announcements today will particularly add pressure to some customers in the south west of England, who already pay the highest bills.
“We want the companies to demonstrate to customers what they are getting for their money, and also to think how they might share the benefits of this unexpected financial gain with their customers.
“Water companies need to make profits and that’s fine, but when water companies have done well financially in the past, the Consumer Council for Water has been successful in persuading them to give back £135m to customers in the form of lower prices and additional investments in the water and sewerage network, to benefit customers. We will be talking to the companies to see how this can be repeated in this price period.
“Anyone who might be struggling to pay their water bill should contact their company immediately. There may be an appropriate scheme offering more flexible payment options, such as weekly or monthly payment plans, special assistance funds, or possibly a special tariff scheme to help eligible customers reduce their water bill.”
Notes to Editors
- The Consumer Council for Water was set up in October 2005 to represent consumers in England and Wales.
- The Consumer Council for Water costs each water customer 23p per year.
- The Consumer Council for Water has gained £135 million from water companies in reduced prices and extra investments.
- The Consumer Council for Water has to date taken up over 80,000 consumer complaints about water and sewerage companies, and secured over £10 million in compensation and rebates fur customers.
- 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.
- Our website is www.ccwater.org.uk.
For public enquiries to the Consumer Council for Water, please contact via email firstname.lastname@example.org, our national number, 0845 039 2837, or via minicom on 0121 345 1044.
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept