Potential Water Bill Hikes Of Between 24 percent and 91 percent

Water strategy - H2O Building Services


Despite stringent evidence of environmental pollution and a lack of investment in infrastructure, amid record profits and high dividend payouts for shareholders, it seems that water customers are being asked to foot the bill of the UK’s burgeoning water crisis, with utility companies now asking for bill increases of between 24 per cent and 91 per cent over the next five years.


Figures from the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) show that Southern Water – one of the worst offenders where widespread pollution is concerned – is asking for the biggest hike of 91 per cent, which will see bills climb to £915 per year by 2030, the BBC reports.


Chief executive of the CCW Dr Mike Keil observed that increases of this kind are likely to be a “massive surprise” to customers, even though they’re sure to understand that infrastructure improvements will require investment.

“I think the scale of what’s being proposed here is going to come as a real shock and this is why water companies have to double down on their efforts to explain what people are getting for their money,” he was quoted by the news source as saying.


Suppliers are saying that these proposed increases will fund £100 billion of investment between 2025 and 2030, with the money going towards replacing leaking pipes and upgrading the system, as well as reducing sewage discharges into freshwater and coastal sources.


A recent Ofwat survey found that fewer than one in six customers believe water bill increases to be affordable. It’s unlikely that the industry regulator will approve the requested hikes in full, but it’s understood by the BBC that it is expected to sign off on increases amounting to at least half of what is being requested… in some cases, considerably more so.


Aside from Southern Water’s proposed hikes, Thames Water wants to see bills climb by 59 per cent (£749 per year), Severn Trent by 50 per cent (£657 per year), Wessex Water by 50 per cent (£822 per year), Yorkshire Water by 40 per cent (£782 per year), United Utilities by 38 per cent (£666 per year) and Anglian water by 29 per cent (£682 per year).


The range of bill increase requests is indicative of the different challenges that the various water suppliers are facing.


Southern Water’s stratospheric hikes, for example, is reflective of significant upgrades required for local water infrastructure, with chief customer officer Katy Taylor saying that the water-stressed region has a “unique set of challenges which require significant investment”.


She went on to note that the cash brought in from higher bills would be used to protect water resources for a growing population, help to protect the environment and reduce the use of storm overflows.


Making further comments on the news, supplier representative Water UK observed that water companies are now increasing the amount of financial support they offer customers who are struggling significantly.

It added: “Ofwat is currently scrutinising these plans and will only allow investment that is new, necessary and value for money. It will not allow water companies to spend money on anything for which they have already received funding.”


Customer trust


Given how bad water company environmental performance has been of late and given the extent to which shareholders are being paid out hefty dividends even in light of this, it is perhaps unsurprising that public trust in the sector is now on the wane.


The CCW’s annual Water Matters survey shows that there has been an unprecedented decline in customer satisfaction with companies across a range of different measures, including sewerage services (down 14 per cent).


In addition, households in agreement that their supplier cared about their service provision was down 14 per cent and the proportion of those who believed they were being charged fairly dropped by nine per cent… the lowest it has ever been.


Trust in companies has also hit its lowest level of 6.37 out of ten, with every single supplier seeing its trust score take a dip. Energy suppliers are now considered to be the most trusted utility provider across England and Wales.


Dr Keil said: “These are the worst results we’ve ever seen in our survey and it largely stems from customers’ concerns over companies’ environmental performance. It’s little surprise people are questioning whether they are getting a fair deal.


“Trust won’t be rebuilt and customers will not tolerate future bill rises unless they see and feel a step change in the service they receive from their water company – whether that’s having the confidence to swim at their local beach or experiencing a more reliable water supply.


“If customers are going to be asked to pay considerably more, they have a right to expect far more in return.”


How can businesses keep water bills down?


If you’re concerned about potential bill hikes in the future, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are various ways in which you can save water – and save yourself money at the same time!


Strategies to consider include water leak detection and repair, rainwater harvesting, water recycling and automated meter reading, all of which can make a significant difference to your water footprint, boosting your blue credentials and building resilience – financially and otherwise – into your business.


The first step to take, however, is to have a water audit carried out across your entire site. This will show you how you’re using water and where, allowing you to see where you need to focus your attention first and what you need to prioritise.

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with the H2o Building Services team today.