3rd February 2015
Water and sewage bills are set to fall by an average of 2% or £9 over the next year, suppliers have revealed.
It comes after the regulator, Ofwat ruled that prices should fall by 5% over the next five years.
Water UK, the industry body, said that the price cuts would take place from April 2015 onwards.
Pamela Taylor, chief executive of Water UK, said: “Water companies understand the pressures their customers are under and are delivering lower bills and even more support for struggling households.
“Meanwhile, investment in the services their customers want will continue so that our drinking water remains the best in the world and our beaches and rivers are kept cleaner than ever.”
The trade body said that its members would provide a package of measures worth more than £40 million to support customers struggling to pay or in debt, through trust funds, debt matching and write-off schemes, debt advice and water efficiency measures to help customers on meters reduce their bills.
It said that by April, 14 of 18 companies will also have social tariffs available for customers to reduce their bills. The other companies either intend to have social tariffs in place in 2016 or are currently consulting their customers about introducing a tariff scheme.
Water UK added that companies will continue to invest billions in tackling leakage, preventing supply interruptions and preventing sewer flooding.
The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) said that today’s announcement marks the first wave of charges under a new five-year price setting deal which was finalised by the industry’s regulator Ofwat in December.
It said that customers’ views have had a greater impact than ever before in shaping what water companies can charge and the services they are expected to deliver.
Tony Smith, chief executive of CCWater, said: “This is good news for most households and reflects how the water industry has listened to what customers want on price and service
“But affordability remains a concern for many households and much more still needs to be done to ensure customers who are struggling or unable to pay their bill get the help they need. That’s why we are working with water companies to ensure they raise awareness of the assistance schemes they can offer customers who urgently need support.”
CCWater added that customers whose sewerage services are provided by a different company to their water supplier need to take into account the combined impact this will have on their bill.
This is particularly important for sewerage customers served by Thames Water. They will see the biggest rise in wastewater charges – partly to help fund the development of the Thames Tideway Tunnel – with an average increase of £12.
This means some customers of water-only companies could still see their overall bill rise, despite a reduction in their water charges.
Households who are already struggling to pay their water bill are being urged by CCWater to get in contact with their water company and ask for help.
Most water companies offer flexible payment options or assistance schemes to help those that cannot afford their bills.