Press release:

Drain on households as water bills rise on 1st April

  • Water bills to rise by an average of 2% or £8 a year from 1st April – average household will pay £393 a year for water and sewerage[1]
  • Increase follows the winter’s price rises from the big six energy suppliers, which saw the average household energy bill rocket to £1,265 a year[2]  
  • Supplier lottery – Thames Water customers will see their bills go up as much as 3.4% while those with South West Water will see bills lowered by 3%[3]
  • Families now face paying £1,658 a year on water, sewerage and energy alone – £61 more than last year[4].

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “This jump in water bills is simply adding to the steady stream of money being drained from consumers. It follows price hikes from the big six energy suppliers and leaves households paying an eye-watering £1,658 a year on water, sewerage and energy alone[4].

“This just adds further pressure on the millions of homes struggling to make ends meet. Almost three quarters of us have gone without heating at some point this winter to cut costs[5] and over a third have reported that it is affecting our quality of life[6]. The fact that we now have to find an additional £61 a year to pay for essential utilities[4] could leave many more of us feeling forced to compromise our health and well-being in order to cope.

“Some homes will be facing higher increases than others, depending on who their supplier is, so it really is a postcode lottery when it comes to the new prices. Thames Water customers are likely to be hardest hit, while South West Water customers will actually see their bills go down.

“It is encouraging to hear some water firms committing to cutting bills from April next year and we could see prices fall up to 5% between 2015 and 2020 – but this is cold comfort to homes who will see their bills increase from Monday[7].

“This is why it is so important for us to make sure we are not paying over the odds for our essential services. There is a difference of almost £300 between the cheapest and the most expensive energy tariff – and while you can’t switch water supplier, you can move to a water meter, which could save you £50 a year[8]. It’s well worth looking at how to cut household bills – a few simple steps today could stop your hard earned cash being flushed away tomorrow.”

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 if you cut back on the amount you use, you will save 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. Source: Water UK – http://www.water.org.uk/home/news/press-releases/bills-2014-15/forecast-average-household-bills-2014-15.pdf

4. Average household energy bill (see point 2 above) is now £1,265 a year. The average household water and sewerage bill from April 2014 will be £393. These add up to £1,658. 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, £61 a year less.

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.’

7. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/utilities/article4029382.ece

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

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