Lewes MP criticises water companies’ price rises

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LEWES MP Norman Baker, called on Southern Water to ease the impact on customers, after the average cost of water bills goes go up by 8.2 per cent.

Ofwat announced the annual bills for sewage and water for 2012/13. Southern Water customers can expect a rise of £31 on the average bill raising it to £416.

The rise comes in year three of the five year price review by Ofwat for 2010-15.

Within the review a rise of 8.2 per cent is permissible to enable Southern Water to increase supply during peak hours, install water meters, increase sewage treatment works capacity and improve water quality in rivers and lakes, as required by the Environment Agency. In 2011/12 Southern Water was limited to a rise of inflation.

Norman said: “While it is right that Southern Water invests in infrastructure and metering, the rise of three per cent above inflation is really going to hit the pockets of local people. Southern Water must therefore do everything it can to limit the impact of the rise, such as transparently advertising off peak rates and deals, and providing advice to customers about payment plan options to make the rise more manageable.”

South East Water announced it would raising bills above inflation, although the rise was limited by Ofwat to 1.7 per cent above inflation and Mr Baker called on to support customers and limit the impact of the rise.

Southern Water chief executive Matthew Wright said: “This investment is the equivalent of spending almost £1,000 for every property in the Southern Water region, giving a big boost to the local economy at a time of economic downturn.

“By ensuring investment in our communities we are able to support thousands of jobs, while delivering improved services and a wide range of environmental improvements, such as cleaner seas and rivers.”

The company’s spending programme includes more than 330 environmental projects, to meet the latest European legislation.

The improvement programme will see 60km of water mains and sewers renewed in 2012/13 along with schemes to safeguard water supplies, improve water quality, reduce leakage and help prevent flooding.

Between 2010 and 2015, Southern Water is also installing more than 500,000 water meters for customers as part of its 25-year plan to manage resources in the South East.

Mr Wright said: “While our charges have risen to meet the enormous cost of our investment, we have worked hard to ensure that those increases are kept to a minimum.

“At the same time, our metering programme is bringing a fairer charging system, giving customers control over the amount they spend on our services by ensuring they pay for only what they use.”