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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 12:24 GMT
Average water bill rising by 5.8%
Water tap
The process for the next price review has already started
Household water and sewerage bills are to increase by 5.8% on average across England and Wales.

Regulator Ofwat says the increase, which householders start paying from April, will make the average combined bill 330 a year, a rise of about 18.

But the combined bill rise is nearly 8% in some areas of the country, creating extra pressure on family budgets on top of recent energy price rises.

The increase is lower than last year's 7% average price increase.

Ofwat said it had worked hard to ease the pain for families.

"The work that Ofwat has done to keep prices down, including setting companies tough efficiency challenges, has kept customers' bills around 100 lower than they would otherwise have been," said Ofwat chief executive Regina Finn.

"Clearly any bill increases are going to be unwelcome but these price rises are essential to enable companies to continue to provide high-quality, secure water and sewerage services both now and for future generations."

Regional changes

The size and average increase of bills vary from company to company, and for combined bills range from 3.7% to 7.8% in the coming year.

Water bills are rising but customers tell us that they cannot always see recognisable benefits
Dame Yve Buckland, Consumer Council for Water

Customers of South West Water will see the smallest rise of 3.7% on their annual water and sewerage bill, an increase of 18 on average compared with 2007-8.

Southern Water customers will see their average combined bill increase by 26. Households served by Wessex Water face a 29 rise. These are both increases of 7.8% on the last bill.

Elsewhere, some households receive separate water and sewerage bills.

Figures from water-only providers show average annual price rises ranging from a 1.4% (2) rise for Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water customers, to a 9.4% (11) increase for those served by Dee Valley Water.

Future prices

Ofwat first set the price increases for 2005-10 in December 2004, with the next industry price review due in 2009.

The process has already started, with customer research on water services to be published by the water companies and the regulator in March.

Ofwat has already said that customers with low water usage would save money by having a water meter fitted.

Customer group the Consumer Council for Water said the next review, which sets prices for 2010 to 2015, must set them at a level that customers were willing and able to pay for.

"Water bills are rising but customers tell us that they cannot always see recognisable benefits in return for these higher water prices, which have increased dramatically since privatisation," said Dame Yve Buckland, who chairs the Consumer Council for Water.

"This has been a profitable price review for the water companies and the onus is now on these companies to show consumers how service for them will improve with the further funding."

"We recognise that people are facing a number of rising costs at this time, and so many customers on low and fixed incomes may struggle to keep up with bill rises. We would encourage anyone in this situation to contact their local water company as soon as possible."

Water and sewerage bills 2008/9

Company Increase %
Water and sewerage combined    
Anglian 21 5.9%
Dwr Cymru 24 6.8%
Northumbrian (North East) 13 4.6%
Severn Trent 15 5.2%
South West 18 3.7%
Southern 26 7.8%
Thames 10 3.8%
United Utilities 25 7.5%
Wessex 29 7.8%
Yorkshire 22 7.5%
Bournemouth & West Hampshire 2 1.4%
Bristol 11 8.0%
Cambridge 5 4.2%
Dee Valley 11 9.4%
Folkestone & Dover 10 5.8%
Mid Kent 6 3.6%
Northumbrian (Essex & Suffolk) 5 3.3%
Portsmouth 5 6.4%
South East 3 1.6%
South Staffordshire 6 5.0%
Sutton & East Surrey 5 3.0%
Tendring Hundred 6 3.5%
Three Valleys 4 2.9%
Industry average 18 5.8%

Ofwat revised their initial figures on 26 February

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