Water bills to rise by less than inflation with record support available for those most in need
- From April, average water bills will again increase by less than inflation, meaning prices will continue their decade-long fall in real terms
- Bills will rise by an average of £31 to £448 a year (equivalent to around 60p more each week)
- Support for low-income households is also being increased to its highest level ever. More than 1 million households already receive help with water bills, which is being increased to 1.2 million over coming months
- Bills are helping fund the highest level of investment in history into our water and sewage systems – more than any other country in Europe. Over the years ahead, some £70 billion is set to be spent on transforming rivers and building new reservoirs
Average yearly water and sewerage bills in England and Wales are forecast to rise by £31 (7.5%) to £448 in the forthcoming year, below inflation (November CPIH inflation, which regulators set as the benchmark, was 9.3%). Water bills remain lower, in real terms, than they were a decade ago.
While there are variations between companies, customers will pay around £1.23 per day on average – an increase of 8p per day on last year’s charges. Full details about the new average bills can be found on the Discover Water website here.
Specific bill changes operate according to a formula agreed with Ofwat, the independent regulator. Although companies have absorbed as much cost as possible, this year’s change particularly reflects the inflationary impact of higher energy costs, with water companies using around 2% of the nation’s electricity.
Money from bills allows the industry to invest. Water companies are set to build on what is already the highest-ever level of investment in the English water sector with a further £70 billon to eliminate harm from storm overflows, transform rivers and seas, and increase water supplies by building new reservoirs and national water transfer schemes – for example to bring water from the north to the south of England using refurbished canals. This will be a critical part of the nation’s response to future drought and climate change.
Since the water industry was privatised, more than £190 billion has been invested improving services and enhancing the environment. This has resulted in customers being five times less likely to suffer from supply interruptions, eight times less likely to suffer from sewer flooding and 100 times less likely to have low water pressure.
Water companies are acutely aware of the impact of price rises on lower income and vulnerable customers. That is why companies have recently increased the level of support they offer by more than £200 million, which will help hundreds of thousands more households.
This builds on the more than 1 million customers that already receive reduced bills – itself the biggest level of support ever offered by the industry – as well as the unprecedented help given to customers during the Covid-19 pandemic, when more than 100,000 payment breaks were approved.
Targeted support is also available for low-income customers who use a lot of water for essential family or health reasons through the WaterSure scheme. And, more broadly, a wide range of assistance (not just financial) is available through the Priority Services Register for a wide range of people, from those with sight, hearing, or mobility difficulties, to parents with babies under 12 months old.
A new campaign ‘Support on Tap’ from Water UK and CCW aims to make as many people as possible aware of the help available from water companies. Full details of available support is available on the campaign website.
Stuart Colville, Water UK Director of Policy, said:
“With an average increase of around 60p a week, most customers will again see a below-inflation increase in their water bill. However, we know that any increase is unwelcome, particularly at the moment.
“That is why companies are also releasing an extra £200 million to help those that may be struggling. Anyone with worries should contact their water company or go to supportontap.org for advice, and it’s worth remembering that water companies will never cut anyone off, or make them use a prepayment meter.
“Next year’s bills will support what is already the highest level of investment on record, with a further £70 billion set to be spent over coming years on building new reservoirs and ending overflows into rivers”.
The 7.5% increase in water compares favourably with other utilities. The energy price cap is set to rise by 20% in April, having previously risen by 27% in October (three and a half times the increase in water), while broadband and mobile customers are set to see their bills increase by up to 14% (or almost double the increase in water). Meanwhile, food inflation has just reached 13.8%.
Notes to Editors
Full details about the new average bills can be found on the Discover Water website here.
Company by company changes
Bill changes will vary from company to company. Links to individual company changes can be found here.
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 and how much water they use. 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 use a formula overseen 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 9.3%, the CPIH annual figure for the year to November 2022, as released by the Office of National Statistics in December 2022.
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 £527. The national average bill figure for England and Wales of £448 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 £527.
Priority Services Register
Customers who need practical support can sign up to the Priority Services Register for free and remain on it as long as is necessary.
The Priority Services Register is available to a wide range of people, from those with sight, hearing, or mobility difficulties, to parents with babies under 12 months old. Water companies offer a wide range of support, from reading your meter for you to sending out bills in other formats. You can contact your water company to find out more.