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Households warned of water bill hikes

Water firms submit business plans to Ofwat

a tap with water flowing

Planning ahead is key to meeting demands

Households were today warned of water bill hikes after firms submitted their draft business plans to regulator Ofwat.

The UK’s largest water and wastewater services company, Thames Water, announced it expects to raise bills by around 3%, excluding annual inflation, each year between 2010 and 2015. 

The firm, which supplies 13 million customers across London and south east England, said the increases would pay for a £6.5 billion investment in water and sewerage services.

Thames Water

Thames Water said its proposals followed a public consultation to find out customers’ concerns and priorities.

Its customers currently pay £280 a year on average for their water, but the company expects the average bill to increase to £303 in 2010-11 and £329 in 2014-15.

The supplier is currently replacing London’s oldest water pipes.

Other major projects include the UK’s first large-scale desalination plant in east London which will remove salt from water taken from the Thames for use during droughts.

United Utilities

United Utilities, which manages water and wastewater distribution in the North West of England, said customers were set to see their average bills increase by just over 2% a year during the five year period, with inflation also stripped out. 

Warrington-based United Utilities – serving nearly three million customers with water and sewerage services – plans to pump £4 billion into its services.

It pledged to improve its annual underlying operating efficiency by 1.5% as it announced the bill hikes, although it said costs overall would increase.

The group is also replacing its system of Victorian cast iron pipes and, among other investment schemes, is planning to build a new West to East water pipeline that will be able to transport up to 100 million litres of water each day.

Severn Trent

Severn Trent, which has more than eight million customers, said its bills would remain ‘broadly flat’, rising only slightly above inflation over the five year period. The company said customer priorities were a more resilient water supply network, stable bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

Households in Wales are set to avoid above-inflation rises after Welsh Water today said its customers would not see annual tariffs increase in ‘real’ terms, when inflation is stripped out.

Welsh Water

The group, which is the sixth largest water company in England and Wales, said bills would remain at around £390 a year before adding on inflation under its £1.5 billion investment programme.

However, the Glas Cymru-owned firm’s typical household bill is already around 15% higher than the UK average.

In February consumers across the country learned their water bills will increase by an average 5.8% this year, with households in some areas seeing their annual bills soar by an inflation-busting 8%.

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