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

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Water bills in England and Wales will rise by an average of 6% from April, sparking criticism from consumer groups concerned about the impact on families during the cost of living crisis.

The increase, announced on Friday by trade association Water UK, will raise the cost of water and sewerage services by around £27 a month, to an average of £473 per household per year, between 2024 and 2025. However , prices will vary depending on the region.

The price of water and sewer services is based on several factors, including the November consumer price inflation index, which includes housing costs. The CPIH index for November was 4.2%.

Water companies have faced growing public backlash in recent years over poor performance on pollution and leaks.

Water UK said the above-inflation increase – consumer prices in December rose at an annual rate of 4% – would pay for a record investment of £14.4 billion in the 12 months to the end of March 2025 and has pledged to ensure that providers will increase support. for low-income families.

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

However, the Consumer Council for Water, which represents customers, expressed concern, pointing out that nearly a fifth of households are already struggling with water bills and that the increase would place “even greater pressure on low-income customers ”.

Its chief executive Mike Keil added: “If water companies are serious about rebuilding trust in the sector, they should use some of their profits to help people who can’t afford another bill increase.”

Water companies in England and Wales offer social tariff schemes, designed to reduce the bills of struggling families. Water UK said more than 2 million households have already been helped with their bills.

David Black, chief executive of Ofwat, said the regulator was aware that “those who are already struggling, [the bill increases would] be a real concern.

The annual increase in water bills is on top of the increase set by Ofwat every five years. For the 2025-2030 regulatory period, water companies have asked to increase bills by up to 40%.

A preliminary decision from Ofwat is expected in June and comes against a backdrop of a cost of living crisis and public anger at the behavior of the water sector.

Companies have been accused of paying excessive dividends and compensation packages for senior management while controlling high rates of leaks and water pollution.

But companies are also struggling in a period of sustained high inflation, which has pushed up wages as well as financing and operating costs and increased pressure on highly indebted balance sheets.

Tim Farron, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the price rise was “a disgrace and should be scrapped immediately”.

“This is a kick in the teeth from the same shady water companies that pollute rivers with sewage and pocket millions in bonuses. They have no shame,” she said.

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