Water firms urged to curb prices

Water companies have been urged to reconsider price hikes by the Government. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told Britain's biggest water companies that keeping bills affordable is "crucial".

Miliband pledges new social tariffs in water industry

Ed Miliband has pledged to introduce new social tariffs in the water industry in a bid to drive down living costs.

Speaking in Battersea, Mr Miliband attacked the Government on the issue of the cost of living crisis and vowed to "stand up for markets that work for working people".

Ed Miliband addresses an audience at Battersea power station this morning.

Mr Miliband said the water industry should be "scrutinised to make sure it is working properly", during an interview with the Evening Standard last week.

The water industry is the latest sector to be scrutinised by the Labour leader after he promised to freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 if his party won the next general election.

Read: Environment Secretary: Affordable water bills 'crucial'

Labour: 'Something really wrong' with energy market

"Something has gone really wrong" in the UK energy market and Parliament has to "tackle that", the shadow energy secretary told Daybreak.

Labour's Caroline Flint said a 46% drop in the wholesale price which was not passed onto customers when her party were in charge, but warned bills were getting worse under the coalition government.

"Prices are going up three times as fast under this Government than they were under us and we need to tackle that."

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Environment Secretary: Affordable water bills 'crucial'

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has told water firms it is "crucial" that water bills are kept affordable for "hardworking people".

We know that household budgets are under pressure, and keeping water bills affordable is a crucial way we can help hardworking people.

That is why we are pressing hard to make sure customers get a fair deal, by encouraging water companies to look closely at any price increases, introduce social tariffs for vulnerable customers and crack down on bad debt.

– Environment Secretary Owen Paterson

Read: Water firms urged to curb prices by Government

Water firms urged to curb prices by Government

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has called on water companies to "look closely" at whether price increases are necessary and introduce special tariffs for hard-pressed households.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has urged water companies to "look closely" at whether price increases are necessary
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has urged water companies to "look closely" at whether price increases are necessary Credit: PA

In a letter to suppliers, Mr Paterson said the firms should recognise the financial strain people are under.

The intervention came ahead of an Ofwat ruling expected later this week on an application from Thames Water to increase bills by £29 in 2014-15.

The regulator is expected to reject the application and has questioned the profits being made by firms.

It suggested its next Price Review could ease the upward pressure on bills by up to £750 million after 2015.

Read: Water companies next to face Government scrutiny