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Why water just got hot

Water companies have benefited from the economic downturn, evidence shows. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/

The battle of the water bills is hotting up. Unlike energy - you can't switch water supplier.

And it's hard to cut down by not flushing the loo or keeping clean. So the prospect of Britain's biggest water company, Thames, increasing bills so much was a worry to its 14 million customers across the south east - but also there were fears it would set the tone for the rest to follow. Here are the details:

  • The current average Thames Water household bill is around £354.
  • Thames wanted an 8% rise to pay for big projects such as a super sewer, adding £29 a year.
  • The increase would have come on top of a 5.5% rise earlier this year.

Now Thames has been told it can't have that 8% rise. It could appeal -but so far has not said that it will.

Cost of living has become the big political battleground – water is emerging as the new battle front.

Water regulator Ofwat has rejected Thames Water's bid for an 8% bill rise Credit: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire

And the regulator has today set a firm tone, telling us that far from bill increases it expects reductions. There is evidence that the economic downturn that has been so tough for customers has been much better for water companies.

Low interest rate have helped them with investments and debts and bills are set using inflation – which has been high.

As with energy we can expect the water companies to hit back with reasons why bill should rise – expect that as the next step in this saga that has our household finances as the battleground.