3.5% increase in water bills take utility costs to a new high

The Momentum UK Team 26 March 2013

Households across the country are set to see a 3.5% increase in their water and sewerage bills, following compulsory price rises set down by regulator Ofwat.

According to the regulatory body for the mains water and sewerage industry the increases are necessary to invest on maintenance as well as underground flood prevention.

However Ofwat admits that the price rise which comes into action on the 1st of April could place further pressure on consumers already hit by recent price increases from Britain’s 'big six' energy providers.

The 3.5% increase is likely to result in a national average of £13 per year on top of existing prices, taking it from £375 in 2012 to £388 in 2013.

When combined with the annual cost of energy bills households will have experienced more than a doubling of their overall energy expenditure in under 10 years. This has been a steady upward trend from an average annual energy bill of £522 in 2004, to the record high of £1352 in 2013.

When combined with the latest increase in water and sewerage costs, the average UK household could be paying up to £1740 annually on their utilities.

Regina Finn, Ofwat’s Chief Executive, said the rise was necessary to form part of a five-year £25bn investment programme, to ensure customers received "safe and secure water" as well as “dealing with the misery of sewer flooding for thousands of customers.”

“We understand that there is huge pressure on household incomes, and any rise is unwelcome. Inflation is driving these increases, These rises will help pay for investment of around £1,000 for every household in England and Wales”

The rate at which you pay these increases will depend on your region. The South East, classically the countries driest region will receive an annual increase of £23 per year. Whereas the South West will actually receive a £40 reduction, mainly due to government contributions.

Ms Finn said:

"There are longer-term challenges if we are to continue to keep bills down.

"Unpredictable rainfall and population growth in areas where water is already stretched means we need to get better at managing and sharing our water. If we don't, customers will lose out.

"We cannot afford to stand still if our water supplies are to remain both affordable and sustainable in the decades to come."

National Debtline claimed to have taken a record high of 19,667 calls to help with debts on water bills last year. This is up from 597 in 2003 and a 251% increase since 2007.