Sub-inflation price increases but hard-up need to check out social tariffs

Water companies’ sub inflation price increases for year have kept bills on trajectory towards a 5% real terms cut in prices at the end of the current price control period according to Water UK. And the Consumer Council for Water (CC Water) has warned hard-up households not to overlook the bill reductions on offer from water companies following inflation fuelled record increases.

The industry association highlighted investment by water companies at more than £8bn a year which is said will “ensure that more than 370 million litres a day is prevented from leaking from pipes, nearly 5000 fewer properties will be flooded with sewer water, and there will be cleaner water at more than 50 beaches.”

It said that water companies were on track to increase the number of people receiving support through social tariffs to 1m (459,000 households) by 2020 taking the total to some 1.8m.

The water consumer watchdog published average water and sewerage bills charged by the UK water companies showing an average increase of 2% to £405 – a six-year high. It pressed low-income customers to check their eligibility for social tariff schemes “that can reduce the bills of eligible low-income customers by as much as 90%.”

Tens of thousands of households are missongout on social tariffs despite a 30% increase in uptake since April 2017 CC Water said. “Most water companies are reducing their charges before inflation is added to bills which has softened the blow, but this will still be an unwelcome increase for millions of customers that are facing other rising costs,” said CC Water chief executive, Tony Smith.

“Water companies now have a range of schemes that can ease the pressure on customers that are already feeling the pinch. But for some of us, simply switching to a water meter can be the most effective way to save money,” Smith added.