Press release:

Consumers wrung out as water UK announces price hikes

  • Water bills set to rise by 2% or £8 a year on average from 1st April – average household will be forking out £393 a year for water and sewerage[1]
  • Squeezed to the last drop: increase follows a wave of winter price hikes from Britain’s big six energy suppliers – average bill has rocketed to £1,264 a year[2]
  • Living hand to mouth: households now face paying an eye-watering £1,657 a year on water, sewerage and energy alone[3]
  • Moving to a water meter could save households over £50 a year[4].

Water UK’s announcement today that households face a 2% or £8 average increase to water bills from April 1st[1], will leave many consumers floundering, warns uSwitch.com, the independent and impartial price comparison and switching service.

The hike in water bills comes just after households saw energy bills soar to £1,264 a year[2]. It means that households now face paying an eye-watering £1,657 a year on water, sewerage and energy alone[3]. They will now need to find £60 a year more to pay for these essential utilities[3] with concern growing over the impact this could have on the poorest households.

Research shows that over seven in ten households (73%) have gone without heating at some point this winter because of the cost[5] – over a third (36%) say that these cutbacks are affecting their quality of life or health[6].

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Today’s announcement has left households hung out to dry, adding insult to injury for those who are already struggling to cope with this winter’s energy price hikes.

“Households now have to find an extra £60 a year to keep afloat to keep as they face forking out a record £1,657 a year on energy, water and sewerage alone[3]. With many living hand-to-mouth to survive, this increase in bills could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. And there is no doubt that the higher cost of these essential services will cause sacrifice and hardship for many, potentially adding to the huge number already forced to ration their use of energy.

“I would urge consumers to stop paying over the odds on their household bills and to take simple but effective steps to cut their costs and to protect their budgets. While consumers might not have the choice of switching to a cheaper water supplier, they do have the option of moving to a water meter which could save them over £50 a year[4]. As a rule of thumb, if there are more bedrooms than people in a household then a water meter could be more cost effective and prevent households from drowning in bills.”

Pros and cons of being on a water meter:

  • If you are on a meter, you only pay for what you use, which means that cutting back on the amount you use will save you money.
  • If you switch to a water meter and find that you are not saving money or are unhappy with the change, you can switch back to unmeasured charging within 12 months.
  • The general rule of thumb: if there are less people in your house than bedrooms (e.g. two people living in a four bedroom family home) then you could save money by switching to a water meter.
  • For larger families, being on a water meter may not be cost effective as your water consumption may be high. Customers living in compulsory metering areas will need support in regulating and reducing consumption.

— ends —

Notes to editors

1. Water UK announcement: http://www.water.org.uk/home/news/press-releases/bills-2014-15

2. Based on a medium usage customer using 3,200 kWh of electricity and 13,500 kWh of gas on a standard Dual Fuel bill, paying quarterly by cash or cheque with bill sizes averaged across all regions and the big six suppliers.

3. Average household energy bill (see point 2 above) is now £1,294 a year. The average household water and sewerage bill from April 2014 will be £393. These add up to £1,657. This time last year, the average household energy bill was £1,212 a year while the average water bill was £385 – these total £1,597 a year, £60 a year less.

4. Source: Ofwat ‘Average household bills 2012-2013’: http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/consumerissues/chargesbills/prs_inf_charges2011-12.pdf;

5. Research was conducted with the uSwitch.com Consumer Opinion Panel amongst 1,021 respondents in January 2014. In response to: ‘Have you gone without heating this winter to keep your energy costs down?’ 50% said ‘occasionally’, 20% said ‘regularly’, 3% said ‘always’. This adds up to 73% who went without heating at some point this winter.

6. Research was conducted with the uSwitch.com Consumer Opinion Panel amongst 1,021 respondents in January 2014. In response to: ‘Do you think you’re achieving the right balance this winter between keeping your home warm and managing costs?’ 36% said ‘No – the cutbacks I’m making are affecting my quality of life and/or health.’

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

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