Water price rise threat

PUBLISHED: 15:50 17 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:30 10 June 2010

ASUNDAY, AUGUST 17: THE water watchdog has fired a warning shot across the bows of South West Water after they threatened to hit East Devon consumers with an above inflation price-hike. The increase, that would take place in less then 18 months' time until 2015, could see th

THE water watchdog has fired a warning shot across the bows of South West Water after they threatened to hit East Devon consumers with an above inflation price-hike.The increase, that would take place in less then 18 months' time until 2015, could see the average metered water and sewerage bill rise by 12.5 per cent, from £373 in 2009-10 to £421 in 2015.Unmetered water and sewerage bills, before inflation, would also rise by a staggering 40 per cent, from £677 in 2009-10 to £951 in 2015 - South West Water estimates that around 70 per cent of their customers will be metered by 2010. The reasons given for the price increases include higher energy and operating costs and work needed to replace and renew water and sewerage infrastructure. But the Consumer Council for Water has told the water provider that such massive price hikes on such a scale would add to the misery of householders, especially in light of other utility bill increases and could lead to 'water poverty'. 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 by will be determined by the economic regulator, Ofwat, in November 2009.

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