Water companies in England and Wales have today published final business plans for maintaining and improving water and sewerage services in the five years beginning 2010. The proposals have been submitted to Ofwat, the water regulator, in the latest stage of the 2009 water price review process.
Altogether the 21 companies are proposing to invest around £24 billion in capital projects between 2010 and 2015. Within this figure, levels of expenditure vary considerably between companies, reflecting differences in the customers they serve, the condition of the assets they operate, and the environment and climate they have to manage.
The effect on bills over the five years ranges from no real increase (bills will rise or fall only with inflation) to an increase of around £49 by 2015. The average bill in 2015 is forecast to be around £349 before inflation, an increase of about £28 (less than 9%) over the five years, or about £5.50 per year. (NOTE – all figures in 2007-08 prices.)
Pamela Taylor, Chief Executive, said:
"Water customers tell us they want dependable services at affordable prices. The business plans meet these two priorities by finding a balance between continuing with vital investment and doing everything to hold prices down.
"In the economic downturn major investors such as water companies should keep up levels of activity wherever possible. It would be a serious mistake at this of all times to cut back on maintaining and improving the infrastructure we all depend on.
"Water companies face different challenges because of differences in the climate and geography of their catchments, the condition of their networks, and in the communities they serve. So the need for investment and impact on bills also differ between companies. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' blueprint for a secure water supply or clean environment.
"This is an important stage in the process of setting prices for the five years beginning 2010 but there is still a long way to go. We won’t know how much customers will be paying a year from now until November at the earliest."
Companies are planning to meet customers’ two priorities by balancing continuing investment in a reliable supply with prices at lowest possible levels.
Maintaining and renewing networks to strengthen security of supply in the face of climate change remains a major focus of business plans.
Some important aspects of companies’ costs are outside their control including the rate of inflation and business rates.
The final plans are the next stage in a long process. Companies have done their best to assess the main factors affecting prices but things could change between now and November when Ofwat sets final price limits.
For more information please contact:
Water UK Communication
020 7344 1809 out of hours 07833 450544