Water bills to rise by 4.6%Increase is broadly in line with inflation
01 March 2011
Water bills will rise by 4.6% next year - pushing bills up by £16 to an average of £356 for the year beginning 1 April 2011.
The increase is broadly in line with inflation, but will hit consumers hard because it is based on the RPI (Retail Price Index) measure of inflation for November 2010, which was higher than CPI (Consumer Price Index) inflation. CPI does not include mortgage interest, whereas RPI does.
Which? utilities expert Sylvia Baron says: 'Unfortunately, consumers' bills will be higher across the board with this increase following the recent rise in gas and electricity prices.
'There's no option for consumers to switch water suppliers if they are not happy with the price they are paying, but metered customers can minimise the impact on their bills by checking out our tips on using less water.'
Prices set by Ofwat
Water industry regulator Ofwat - which is responsible for setting prices - defended the decision to base prices on RPI. A spokesman said: 'We've used RPI since privatisation in 1989, and all the other regulators use RPI too.'
'Sometimes it works in the customer's favour, as the RPI rate used last year was 0.3% when CPI was 1.9%.'
Prices are set by Ofwat every five years. In 2009, the regulator set prices for 2010-2015 at inflation minus 0.1%.
Lower your gas and electricity bills
You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.
Which? RSS and Twitter news feeds
For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? consumer news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/news.xml into your newsreader.
Follow @WhichNews on Twitter for the latest news, or @WhichAction to see how we're campaigning for consumers.