Thames Water has announced a shake-up of the way it charges customers that will see those who live in smaller homes paying less.
Households whose bills are currently based on the average metered bill, or average household charge, will be placed in one of three bands based on the number of bedrooms at the property.
Thames Water said the system would better reflect the amount of water households use and result in lower bills.
Around 24,000 one- or two-bedroom homes will now fall into the first two bands. This will mean their annual bills will fall to either £200 or £217 from the current charge of £245.
But 11,500 properties with three bedrooms or more are expected to see their bills increase from £245 to around £266.
Thames Water Customer Services Director Mike Tempest said: ‘Last year we decided to review how some of our customers were charged for their water use, as it was clear that in some cases the charges didn’t reflect the amount of water they actually used.
He added: ‘We know that customers want to pay for what they use. By splitting the charge into three bands, their bills will better reflect the true consumption.’
Thames Water used the average household charge when it couldn’t fit a water meter for customers who wanted one – such as those people living in a blocks of flats with a shared water pipe.
The new three-tier pricing structure will be known as the ‘assessed household charge’ and Thames said the bands, which are yet to be approved by water services regulator Ofwat, are expected to be as follows:
- band one: studio/one bedroom, 2008/09 charge £200 (2007/08 charge £245)
- band two: two bedrooms, 2008/09 charge £217 (2007/08 charge £245)
- band three: three or more bedrooms, 2008/09 charge £266 (2007/08 charge £245)
A spokeswoman for the Consumer Council for Water said: ‘This is something that we did urge the company to introduce because other water companies have adopted a similar approach.
‘Clearly people living in smaller flats are likely to have comparatively small usage. If they can’t have a meter fitted it’s only right that set charges should reflect that.’