Water bills to rise in England and Wales by 6% from April

Water bills Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The average household water bill in England and Wales will rise by 6% to £473 a year from April 1, the industry has confirmed.

Regulator Ofwat says the average annual forecasted increase will be £27.40 per household, equivalent to about £2.30 a month.

Wessex Water and Anglian Water customers will see the biggest rise, with average bills set to increase to £548 and £529 respectively, while Northumbrian customers will see the lowest average bills of £422.

The rise comes amid public fury about sewage being discharged into Britain's waters, and ongoing concern about shareholder bonuses amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

But Water UK, the trade body in charge of water companies, said there would be support for low-income households and record investment in infrastructure to “significantly reduce” the amount of sewage in rivers and seas.

David Henderson, chief executive of Water UK, said: “Next year will see record levels of investment from water companies to secure the security of our water supply in the future and significantly reduce the amount of sewage in rivers and seas.

“Up and down the country customers will see the results of this investment with more than 2,000 kilometres of pipes being repaired or replaced and more capacity to treat sewage than ever before.

“At the same time support for customers is doubling with more than two million families now being with helped with their bills.

"Anyone with worries should contact their water company and, it is worth remembering, water companies will never cut anyone off or make them use a prepayment meter.”

Raw sewage being released into a river Credit: PA

Water UK said firms would invest a record £14.4 billion to fund improvements in water and sewerage systems, and bills would automatically be reduced by the regulator if they were not delivered.

Among the projects set to receive investment over the coming year is the 25km Tideway super sewer, which will divert storm flows away from the River Thames and reduce sewage pollution into the river by 95%.

Work will begin on the Havant Thicket reservoir in Hampshire, the first reservoir to be built in the UK for more than 30 years.

Wessex Water said it was investing more than £150 million on sewage and stormwater capacity at its major water recycling centres near Bath, Bristol and Bournemouth.

Consumer Council for Water (CCW) chief executive Mike Keil said the nearly a fifth of households in England and Wales are already struggling to pay their water bills.

He said: “If water companies are serious about rebuilding trust in the sector they should use some of their profits to help people who cannot afford another bill rise.

“The water industry made a commitment five years ago to end water poverty in England and Wales and it needs to keep that promise.

“Crisis-hit households need immediate relief and the long-term security of knowing they can afford something as essential as water, without having to make painful sacrifices.”

In December, South East Water revealed it paid out £2.3 million in dividends to investors despite losses and disruption to customers' water supply.

Details of the payout came as the supplier – which is under investigation by regulator Ofwat over its service to customers and record in maintaining a water supply – reported pre-tax losses of £18.1 million for the six months to September 30, against losses of £12.7 million a year earlier.

Just days earlier, troubled Thames Water announced a £37.5 million dividend to its parent company – with the payout being probed by Ofwat over concerns it may have broken rules designed to protect customers and the environment.

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