Average yearly water and sewerage bills in England and Wales are forecast to rise by 1.7% in the forthcoming year- well below inflation, currently standing at 4.8% (CPIH). Water bills are lower in real terms than they were a decade ago and average yearly bills have fallen in the last two years.
Average water bills are forecast to be £419 (a rise of £7), or just over £1 per day – an increase of just 2p per day on last year’s charges. Full details about the new average bills can be found on the Discover Water website here.
With the cost of living rising, customers are being encouraged to contact their water company if they need help with their bills. A record 1.1 million customers are now receiving some form of support with paying their water bills. This is set to rise to 1.4 million by 2025. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, more than 100,000 customers have been given payment breaks.
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.
Christine McGourty, CEO of Water UK said: “Customers will continue to pay little more than £1 a day for their water and sewerage service, helping to directly fund significant investment in improving infrastructure and enhancing the environment.
"But we know this is a difficult time for many, and no-one should have to worry about their household essentials. There is a wide range of support available for those in need, and I would urge anyone who’s concerned to get in touch with their water company.”
Companies are already offering more support than ever to their customers, and this includes reducing bills for households under a certain income, charitable funds to support struggling customers and capping customer bills at the average yearly charge.
Support is also available through the Priority Services Register, which offers additional support to a wide range of people, from those with sight, hearing, or mobility difficulties, to parents with babies under 12 months old, and WaterSure scheme, which enables water companies to cap bills for low-income customers who use a lot of water for essential family or health reasons.
Examples of other initiatives set up by water companies to support customers include:
- South East Water data sharing project - South East Water has introduced new ways to support customers struggling with paying their bills through an innovative partnership with local councils to share data to identify households on a low income. Those who are eligible for the company’s social tariff, which caps the cost of tap water and sewerage, are being automatically transferred to the tariff without a need to apply
- Severn Trent Big Difference Scheme - The Big Difference Scheme can offer a reduction of water bills to any Severn Trent customer with a household income below £16,385, with some customers receiving up to 90% off the average Severn Trent bill
- Anglian Water’s Extra Care Support – This scheme offers customers support with their bills if they are recovering from an illness or going through other life changes affecting their finances
- Thames Water Customer Assistance Fund - The Thames Water Customer Assistance Fund helps customers who are experiencing financial hardship and can help to clear debt if someone is struggling to pay previous water bills
- United Utilities’ North West Hardship Hub - One-stop-shop online portal bringing financial assistance schemes and information from across the public and private sector into one place. The Hardship Hub helps debt advisers to easily identify the right support for the people who come to them for help, including with water and energy bills, food banks or housing
- South West Water WaterCare tariff - The WaterCare tariff offers a wide range of support which includes benefit entitlement, checks to ensure customers maximise their income, water efficiency checks to reduce bills, and a comprehensive affordability toolkit. The WaterCare tariff helps those on a low income by reducing standard measured charges by between 15% and, up to, 85%.
This below-inflation average bill increase comes in the third year of a 5-year business cycle for water companies. Water companies in England and Wales are investing about £10 billion in 2022-23, as part of a £51 billion investment package over the five years from 2020 to 2025.
Since the water industry was privatised, more than £160 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.
Investment will help improve services for customers while also protecting and enhancing the environment. Schemes for the forthcoming year include: Severn Trent investing £75 million to alleviate flooding in Mansfield, Yorkshire Water’s AI Data project to predict storm overflows, Anglian Water’s £124 million water resilience project and Thames Water’s Smart Meter Water efficiency project.