The Consumer Council for Water today warned that South West Water has proposed above inflation price rises between 2010 and 2015.
This means that before inflation, the average metered water and sewerage bill could rise by 12.5% from £373 in 2009-10 to £421 in 2015. Unmetered water and sewerage bills would rise by 40%, from £677 in 2009-10 to £951 in 2015 before inflation. South West Water estimates that around 70% of their customers will be metered by 2010.
The Consumer Council for Water believes that customers will not be happy with price rises on this scale, especially in light of other household bill increases.
Reasons given by South West Water for the price increases include higher energy and operating costs and work needed to replace and renew water and sewerage infrastructure.
Charles Howeson, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water Western, said: “We are concerned that South West Water’s investment proposals will push prices up beyond what customers are willing and able to pay.
“The Consumer Council for Water, together with other industry stakeholders, asked consumers what they want from their water companies between 2010 and 2015.
“Consumers were very clear that keeping price rises in line with the rate of inflation is of paramount importance, along with making sure that there is enough water to meet demand, and reducing leakage.
“It will take time to analyse the draft business plan in detail, and we will be responding to South West Water with our concerns after comparing the company’s pricing and investment plans with what consumers in the area have told us that they want.”
The proposed price increases are being published as part of South West Water’s draft business plan, which is being used as a starting point for the discussions that will decide water prices up until 2015. The exact amount that South West Water will be permitted to raise prices will be determined by the economic regulator, Ofwat, in November 2009.