Further misery for householders as water firms plan 22 per cent bill rise

Consumers face year after year of inflation busting rises in water bills after companies submitted plans for increases of up to 22 per cent over a five-year period to 2015.

As households face higher bills for mortgages, food, energy and petrol, the water companies intend to hike bills by up to £100 a year to pay for new pipes to reduce leakage.

Southern Water is planning the steepest hike, with average bills rising by 21 per cent from £352 to £426. Thames Water is seeking to raise bills by 16 per cent after inflation, from £280 to £329 a year. In the North-west, United Utilities customers face having to pay £390 a year by 2015, a rise of 11 per cent above inflation.

Other companies planning rises include Anglian (3.6 per cent above inflation), Northumbrian (2.8 per cent above inflation) and Yorkshire (1.6 per cent above inflation).

There was relief for customers of Wessex and Welsh Water, where bills will rise in line with inflation.

The water companies in England and Wales submitted the rises to the regulator Ofwat as part of their five-year business plans for 2010-2015. Over the coming year, Ofwat will study the proposals before deciding whether to cap the rises in November 2009. The companies say the hikes will fund billions of pounds of investment as well as covering higher energy costs, tighter environmental and water quality standards, and work needed to protect assets from natural disasters such as flooding.

Consumer groups fear that some customers will be unable to afford such large bills during a squeeze on household budgets.

In the past year, energy bills have risen by 40 per cent and further rises are expected this winter. Mortgage rates have also risen, while water and council tax bills have jumped by four and six per cent respectively. Unleaded petrol is up 19 per cent. Shopping website mysupermarket.co.uk's basket of 24 grocery items has jumped by 27 per cent in the past 12 months, it said yesterday.

Ofwat figures show that water bills have almost trebled since privatisation in 1989, up 260 per cent from £120 to £312. At the same time, the profits of the companies have leapt – up by 28 per cent in the past five years alone, from £1.95bn in 2002/03 for the top 10 companies to £2.59bn in 2006/07.

Thames Water, which supplies 13 million customers across London and south east England, plans to pump £6.5bn into water and sewerage services. Justifying the price rises, chief executive, David Owens, said: "Thames' customers have enjoyed the lowest bills in the industry for many years, but we now need to make essential investment to secure their services for the future."

The Consumer Council for Water said that research showed most customers were not willing to pay inflation-busting price increases, while also seeking reduced leakage.

In a statement, the watchdog said: "At first glance, some water companies, such as Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Wessex Water, Severn Trent Water, and Yorkshire Water seem to have taken this to heart and said that they can continue to meet their obligations to deliver a safe, reliable service, provide further benefits to consumers, and do this without raising prices much above the rate of inflation, if at all.

"Other water companies such as Southern Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Bristol Water, South East Water, Folkestone and Dover, and Cambridge Water, have proposed bill increases of over 20 per cent above the rate of inflation."

The statement added: "The Consumer Council for Water believes that many customers will be concerned with price rises on this scale, especially in light of other household bill increases. Customers will want to see the justification for any proposed price increases, to understand exactly what they will get for the extra money."

Ofwat has said customers with low water usage would save money by having a meter fitted.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee