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South West Water launches innovative new trial to make customer bills fairer

  • South West Water launches innovative new trial to make customer bills fairer

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South West Water
South West Water and Bournemouth Water are part of South West Water Limited, which is a member of Pennon Group PLC.

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South West Water has announced an innovative new trial which will give customers the chance to save money on their bills by reducing their water usage.

The Smart Saver tariff will be trialled for two years from 1 April 2024 with a selection of customers in the Barnstaple area due to take part.

The trial is designed to encourage customers to reduce non-essential water use, and works by offering a cheaper water rate for low consumption use, with rates increasing if higher consump-tion is seen.

South West Water believes that around 90% of customers taking part will see a reduction in their bills as a result of the tariff.

Laura Flowerdew, South West Water’s Chief Customer and Digital Officer, said: “Our customers have told us they want us to find new ways of charging and to ensure that the bills they pay are fair, and reflective of the water they use.

“The Smart Saver trial will allow us to understand what works well and what our customers consider to be fair ways of charging. We look forward to working with customers in Barnstaple on this exciting project over the next couple of years."

South West Water recently announced plans to trial four new and innovative tariffs across Devon and Cornwall by April 2025 to understand how it can make bills fairer for customers.

The first tariff trial began on 1 February (2024) and will see all household customers in Cornwall receive a credit up to £30 on their bill if the county collectively reduces its water consumption between the start of the trial and 30 April 2024. It is looking to introduce two further tariff trials later this year. 

South West Water has announced an innovative new trial which will give customers the chance to save money on their bills by reducing their water usage

Emily Bulman, Director at Ofwat, said: “We welcome South West Water carrying out this trial and look forward to discussing with them how customers respond. The water sector must become more active and inventive in supporting customers who are struggling to make ends meet, as well as finding ways to help save water. New approaches to charging can do this. 

“Now more than ever, it is time for water companies to show they understand and can respond to the needs of their customers, by supporting affordability and sustainability. Bills are a huge concern to many customers, and we need to see fresh thinking from companies.”

Andrew White, Senior Leader at CCW (Consumer Council for Water), said: “The way customers are billed for their water hasn’t changed in over 30 years. With 1 in 4 households reporting that they are struggling to pay their water bills, it's great to see South West Water exploring new ways of charging customers.

“Innovation in charging has the potential to make bills more affordable, as well as protecting our environment by helping customers understand how much water they use and how they can use a bit less. We’re working with all water companies as they develop plans to trial alternative charging options to help alleviate the pressure on people’s finances and the water environment.”

To support customers on the Smart Saver trial with reducing their water consumption, the water company will offer water efficiency advice and free water-saving devices to help all customers reduce their bills.

Using the results of this and the other trials, South West Water will work with customers, Government, regulators and the Consumer Council for Water to help roll out improved ways of charging across the region.

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