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Press release

Average water and sewerage bills for England and Wales to fall by £17 in 2020/21

Average household water and sewerage bills in England and Wales will be cut by around £17 (4%) in 2020/21. The average annual bill will come down from £413.33 to £396.60, although there will be variations from company to company.

It means customers will continue to pay around £1 a day for world-class drinking water, reliable sewerage services and increased protection of the environment.

After inflation, average bills are around the same level that they were a decade ago. This contrasts with the large rises in bills in other areas such as energy and rail.

As well as a reduction in average bills, there is also going to be more help for customers who find it difficult to pay. Water companies plan to almost double the number of people getting help with their bills every year, up from 760,000 customers now to at least 1.4 million by 2025.

Commenting on the new figures, Water UK Chief Executive Christine McGourty said;

“The water industry is committed to giving customers good value for money. For around £1 a day, customers get the world-class quality water they need and their wastewater managed responsibly.

“Companies are also committed to investing for the future and protecting the environment, with an ambitious goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030. And companies are increasing the assistance available for customers who need it most. The number of people getting help to pay their water bills will almost double, whether that’s through reduced tariffs or targeted support.”

Help for customers who find it difficult to pay their bills takes a number of forms. One route is through social tariffs, which are special discounts for people on a low income or receiving specific benefits. Each company has its own support scheme, and some also run or assist charities which provide additional help. Help available includes the WaterSure scheme, which enables water companies to cap bills for low income customers who use a lot of water for essential family or health reasons.

The average bill reductions come at the start of the next 5-year business cycle for water companies. As well as planning to cut bills in real terms during the 2020-2025 period, the companies intend to spend at least £1 billion a year making substantial environmental enhancements. The plans include improving 7,500 miles of rivers and carrying out work as part of the industry’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The net zero commitment includes important measures such as planting 11 million trees, restoring original woodland and improving natural habitats – such as peatland – which capture carbon. The industry has also pledged to prevent the equivalent of 4 billion plastic bottles from ending up as waste by 2030, through our successful Refill drinking water scheme.

Full details about the new average water and sewerage bills can be found on the Discover Water website here.

ENDS

For more information please contact the Water UK communications team on 020 7344 1805 or comms@water.org.uk

Notes for editors

Bill calculations

Average bills are estimates based on forecast data provided by water companies. The average household bill is an average across all customers. Individual customers’ bills may be more or less than the average because of their particular characteristics – for example, whether they have a water meter. Changes to customers’ bills will vary according to which company supplies them. Some customers receive their water services from one company and receive their sewerage services from another. To calculate the average combined bill, the average water bill must be added to the average sewerage bill.

Inflation

Every five years, Ofwat, the economic regulator, sets the package of investment that companies must deliver and controls the prices companies can charge to fund this investment. Each year companies are allowed by Ofwat to add up to the CPIH rate of inflation to the wholesale element of their charges. The reference inflation figure for this year is 1.5%, the CPIH annual figure for the year to November 2019, as released by the Office of National Statistics in December 2019.

South West Water calculations

Since April 2013, household customers served by South West Water have benefitted from a Government contribution, which reduces the bill for all households by £50 per year.  This £50 reduction is applied to the combined average bill for South West Water shown on Discover Water.

Without the Government Contribution, South West Water’s combined average bill would be around £520. The national average bill figure for England and Wales of £397 is weighted to reflect the number of customers served by individual companies. It does not factor in the Government Contribution to South West Water’s household bills. The national average bill figure therefore incorporates an average South West Water household bill of £520.

Rounding

With the exception of the annual bill reducing from £413.33 to £396.60, figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number.