Parliament and Politics: Water prices rise 'almost 50% over five years'

WATER PRICES in Britain have risen by almost 50 per cent in the past five years.

According to an international water price survey, prices have leapt by 35 per cent since privatisation and consumers will continue to bear the brunt unless there is a fundamental review of the UK water-pricing formula.

German consumers face the highest charges, where the costs of modernising the eastern part of the country after unification has driven up prices, according to the 12-nation survey.

German users are charged 78p per cubic metre, compared with 54p paid by Britons.

Consumers in Belgium, France and the Netherlands all paid more than the British. Canadians enjoyed the cheapest water at 19p per cubic metre.

In Britain, the inhabitants of Eastbourne on the south coast paid more to fill the bath than anyone else at 93p per cubic metre. Ablutions were cheapest in Stirling at 27p.

Londoners could get scrubbed and cleaned for 44p while those in Birmingham and Manchester were charged 53p.

UK prices increased by 12.2 per cent last year, more than three times the rate of inflation, the report by National Utility Services says.

Andrew Johns, NUS director, said: 'The continued rise in costs this year will certainly fuel the debate as to whether the formula fixed at the time of privatisation to control price increases has been set at the right level.'

The formula allows the companies to raise prices substantially above the inflation rate. Last year they agreed to impose increases below the maximum level allowed after pressure from Ofwat, the water industry watchdog.

Ian Byatt, Ofwat director general, announced a review of the formula but consumers will have to wait until 1994-95 before it takes place. Last month, he warned that average water bills could rise to pounds 250 by the end of the century, compared with the current average of pounds 170. Tightening environmental standards would be the main cause of the increases, he said.

British consumers were having to meet the costs, the report says. 'No benefits of any kind can be seen for the consumers, who are forced to pay a monopoly supplier prices escalating above inflation,' Mr Johns said.

Water companies persuaded the Government that the formula was necessary to fund capital investments required to improve efficiency and bring 'what has been widely claimed as a Victorian industry into the 1990s', the report says.

EC directives on water standards were also cited as reasons for its existence.

'This generous price formula must now be strongly questioned, as consumers see no benefit from an improved system - only increased management salaries combined with increased dividends and profit declarations from the water companies,' it says.

The report predicts a dismal future for UK customers, who will not benefit from water privatisation until the industry decides it is time to improve the pricing structure or some effective form of competition can be introduced. 'The outlook is one of continuing high price rises for the coming years,' it concludes.

International Water Price Survey; National Utility Services, Croydon, London.

(Graphic omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent