Average water bills set to fall as additional support for customers continues
- Average bills set to fall by £2 (0.6%) in 2021/22
- More than 90,000 customers helped with payment breaks during the pandemic so far
Average household water and sewerage bills in England and Wales are set to fall by around £2 (0.6%) in 2021/22. The average annual bill is forecast to come down from £410 to £408, although there will be variations from company to company.
The news comes as water companies continue to offer additional assistance to customers during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 1 million customers receiving reduced bills and more than 90,000 customers given payment breaks. By 2025, the number of customers receiving help to pay their bills is set to rise to at least 1.4 million by 2025.
Customers will continue to pay little more than £1 a day for world-class drinking water, reliable sewerage services and protection of the environment. Full details about the new average bills can be found on the Discover Water website here.
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.
Commenting on the new figures, Water UK Chief Executive Christine McGourty said:
“Water companies are committed to giving customers good value for money and ensuring that anyone who needs help with their bills gets it.
“It’s been a difficult year for so many people, and water companies throughout have been actively seeking out customers who might benefit from extra support while continuing to deliver world class services and investing for the future.
“I would urge anyone who’s concerned about their bill to get in touch with their water company to see what help is available.”
Help for customers who find it difficult to pay their bills takes a number of forms – for example flexible payment methods, payment breaks or social tariffs, which are special discounts for people on a low income or receiving specific benefits.
Each water company provides 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.
This average bill reduction comes in the second year of a 5-year business cycle for water companies. Water companies in England and Wales are investing about £10 billion in 2021-22, as part of a £51 billion investment package over the 5 years from 2020 to 2025.
Investment will help improve services for customers while also protecting and enhancing the environment. Schemes for the forthcoming year include a £150 million project at Blackburn Wastewater Treatment Works to improve water quality in tributaries of the River Ribble; a £59m project to install hundreds of miles of new pipes in East Anglia; and an £8.5 million investment programme to upgrade the wastewater system in the north of Cardiff.
Notes for editors
Average bills are estimates based on forecast data provided by water companies. The average household bill is an average across all customers. An individual customer’s bill 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.
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 0.6%, the CPIH annual figure for the year to November 2020, as released by the Office of National Statistics in December 2020.
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 £533. The national average bill figure for England and Wales of £408 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 £533.
Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number.