CC Water has urged the 200,000 low-income customers who are missing out on bill reductions of up to 80% to tap into the social tariffs available to them. And the consumer watchdog has highlighted further fans available to hard up consumers through its online Benefits Calculator and Grants Search service provided in a partnership with charity, Turn2Us. It said the service had “identified annual welfare benefit entitlements of more than £3.25 million.”
CC Water's comments followed the industry's reported price increases for 2017-18 averaging 2%. Only half of all water customers eligible for reduced bills have signed up for them CC Water warned,
Water UK said the prices for 2017-18 were “in line with the five-year plans developed by every water and sewerage company after extensive consultation with customers, and confirmed by the industry regulator Ofwat in 2014.” Under those plans companies will reduce prices by an average of 5% by 2020. “Over that period, water and sewerage companies will also invest £44 bn in better services, greater resilience and environmental improvements,” said Water UK.
It said the companies were increasing their support for customers who need help with their bills. According to Water UK, water companies provide, alongside social tariffs, other measures worth more than £40 million a year to support customers who struggle to pay or in debt.
Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross said the regulaltor’s challenges placed on the industry under the 2014 price review sought to keep bill increases below inflation through to 2020 and led to £3 billion of savings for customers. She added: “Keeping bills down is only one half of the equation, customers expect an improving level of service for the money they pay.
“This is about the importance of customer legitimacy, how the sector engages with them and how they feel about their service providers, whether that relationship is one of trust and whether that trust has firm foundations. It’s also about putting in place protection for the most vulnerable customers.”
Water UK figures show most water and sewerage company price increases come in at 1-4% with £6-8 most commonly added to bills. Outstanding changes will be at Northumbrian where the mean price increase will be £12 and Severn Trent (£14) while Thames and Welsh will keep bills unchanged on average and South West customers will see a £6 average reduction.
For water only firms average increases will be typically 1-4%. In cash terms most of their customers will pay £0-4 more on average except for those with Bristol (£6 more) and South East (£8) while customers of Bournemouth (now part of Pennon) will get 4% reduction,saving them £6 a year.