Water UK have announced that customers will see their bills reduced by an average of 2% in 2015/16. The figures show that the average charge for both water and sewerage in England and Wales will drop from £395 to £384 over the coming year.
This is in response to a declaration by the regulator of this industry- Ofwat- that bills over the next five years should drop, in real terms, by 5%. The reductions are set to be implemented from April 2015.
The regulations recently imposed by Ofwat are a response to a process that has been ongoing since the privatisation of the water industry in 1989 and the fact that household bills have trebled since. Because most people are unable to choose their water supplier, companies enjoyed a monopolization of the market in the region in which they operate and have experienced record profits as a result.
The chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, Tony Smith, stated: ìThis is good news for most households and reflects how the water industry has listened to what customers want on price and service.î
However, he did move to caution against any hubris and ensure people that it was realised there is much more to do to aid consumers.
Mr. Smith commented: ìAffordability remains a concern for many households and much more still needs to be done to ensure customers who are struggling or unable to pay their bill get the help they need.î
He moved to specifically alert those people ìwhose sewerage bills are provided by a different company to their water supplierî and the need for them to consider the ìcombined impactî these price changes will have on their overall bill.
Further to this, the chief executive of Water UK, Pamela Taylor, said: ìWater companies understand the pressures their customers are under and are delivering lower bills and even more support for struggling households.î
As part of this process, Water UK has committed to delivering and implementing various measures that amount to £40 million in order to assist those water consumers that are having trouble paying their bills. They also stated that of the 18 water providers, 14 of them would have social tariffs implemented within their billing structure which would enhance the support given to those with less financial means.
The biggest percentage reduction in charges is to be welcomed by those customers of Anglican Water who have announced that 7% will come off the average bill for the coming year, a £29 reduction.
Martyn Oakley who is the Director of Customer Service at Anglican Water declared: ìWe know household budgets remain under pressure. So we believe this price cut is timely and coming at a time when customers tell us they need it most.î
He went on to say, ìAs well as cutting bills weíre also continuing to help customers control how much they spend on bills. For instance, weíve pledged by 2020 to fit 95 per cent of homes with a water meterÖThe average bill for metered customers next year will fall to £371. This compares to the average unmetered bill of £516.î
Price reductions have varied across the counties and with different suppliers. Figures released show that compared to the previous year, 2015/16 will see a 1% reduction on the average bill for customers of United Utilities.
Similarly, those with Severn Trent will experience a reduction of 1% to bring the average tariff to £329 yet Wessex Water will take £25 off the average bill amounting to 5% deduction in total.
Hopefully, the social tariffs and measures introduced by Water UK will serve those customers that are subject to the less drastic reductions and still need help in paying their water bills.