Water hike adds to bills misery

Households in England and Wales will see water bills increase by an average of 3.5 per cent this year, while rates in London, the South-west and South-east soar by more than double the rate of inflation.

Figures from the water industry regulator Ofwat show that customers served by Thames Water, which supplies 14 million homes in London and the Thames Valley, face the sharpest rises. The company is to raise bills by 5.5 per cent, putting average bills at £343.

Customers cannot choose their supplier so Ofwat tells firms how much they can raise prices. Its decision means that households across England and Wales will see average bills hit £388 this year.

The news, on top of a wave of energy price rises, means households now face spending a record £1,740 a year on water, sewerage and energy combined, according to the comparison website uSwitch.

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