With household water bills having risen by more than 3% in 2013 in the UK, those who pay the bill may want justification in this hike. At 3.5% the rise in our water bills is actually 0.5% more than inflation.
So, how is this justifiable and what are we getting for our increased payments to the water companies? What are our respective water companies doing with this incremental revenue? Unlike other utilities, households cannot change their water supplier. So, what is being done about these price increases?
After much opposition to the above inflation increase and forecast increase in water bills in the media and from the public The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has now written to water companies to “ensure customers get the best possible deal from the water sector” .Although the Price Review in 2009 allowed full price increases to be applied each year the Environment Secretary now urges the water companies to rethink hefty hikes for 2014. Costs will need to be reduced as customers face inaffordable crippling bills.
Action To Bring Down Costs To Date Includes:
· Ofwat estimate that the next Price Review could significantly reduce pressure on bills from 2015 by between £120 million to £750 million a year
· a crack down on bad debt with the industry’s worst performers challenged to match the performance of the best
· three major water companies introducing social tariffs to help vulnerable customers pay their bills and many more discussing this with their customers
· a new voluntary database for landlords to provide information about tenants to water companies – and government committing to challenge landlords to demonstrate that further regulation is not needed
· a commitment to improve governance standards across the sector, including increased independent and customer representation on boards
· new measures in the Water Bill to ensure that there is an independent redress body to handle complaints that cannot be swiftly resolved by the companies themselves
In the same week Ofwat’s Chairman Jonson Cox also wrote to the water companies urging themto “build trust and legitimacy by listening to their customers”.
Ofwat have requested them to:
to reduce bills in the period 2015 – 20, or fully explain to their customers why they are not; and
to listen to their customers when considering whether to take up the rises in prices they are allowed next year.
So, yes consumer spending is up and may be some of us are feeling financially buoyant but we still want value for money. When having to fork out more and more on utility bills at least outline for what it is we are investing. All water company customers need clarity on what improvements are being undertaken by the water companies then we may well appreciate rising bills.
Further information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/action-on-affordable-water-bills