Water rates on the rise

Average annual water and sewerage charges in England and Wales are predicted to increase by £31 (7.5%) to £448 in the upcoming year, falling below inflation (the November CPIH inflation, which regulators consider as the benchmark, was 9.3%). Water bills remain lower, in real terms, than they were a decade ago.

While there are variations among companies, customers are expected to pay approximately £1.23 per day on average – an uptick of 8p per day compared to last year’s fees. Comprehensive information regarding the updated average charges can be accessed on the Discover Water website.

Specific alterations to bills adhere to a formula that was agreed upon with Ofwat, the independent regulator. Although companies have tried to absorb as much cost as feasible, this year’s alteration largely reflects the inflationary impact of elevated energy expenses, with water companies consuming around 2% of the country’s electricity.

The funds obtained from bills facilitate investment in the industry. Water companies are set to build on the highest-ever level of investment in the English water sector, with an additional £70 billion earmarked for eliminating harm caused by storm overflows, rejuvenating rivers and seas, and augmenting water supplies by constructing new reservoirs and national water transfer schemes. An instance of this is the effort to transport water from the north to the south of England via refurbished canals. This initiative will constitute a crucial element of the nation’s response to future drought and climate change.

Since the privatisation of the water industry, over £190 billion has been invested in improving services and enhancing the environment. As a result, customers are now five times less likely to experience supply disruptions, eight times less likely to encounter sewer flooding, and 100 times less likely to face low water pressure.

Water companies are acutely cognisant of the impact of price hikes on individuals with lower incomes and those who are vulnerable. This is why companies have recently augmented the level of support they provide by more than £200 million, which will extend assistance to hundreds of thousands more households.

These efforts build upon the over 1 million customers who already receive reduced bills – the largest level of support ever offered by the industry. Additionally, during the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 100,000 payment breaks were approved, offering unprecedented assistance to customers.

Targeted aid is also accessible for low-income customers who require significant water usage due to essential family or health reasons through the WaterSure scheme. Moreover, a broad range of support (not solely financial) is available through the Priority Services Register, catering to a diverse spectrum of individuals, from those with visual, auditory, or mobility impairments to parents with infants under 12 months old.