Water companies in Wales to demand more than 40% rise in bills

Two water companies serving Wales are looking to increase their prices by more than 40% over the next five years, new figures show. Hafren Dyfrdwy will demand a 56% increase, while Dŵr Cymru will demand a whopping 43% increase in customer bills over the next five years.

Water companies will meet Ofwat this week to discuss what companies can charge between 2025 and 2030. Firms say the price increase will help them pay to replace leaking pipes and reduce waste water discharges in rivers and seas.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) has compiled a list of the figure by which each water company wants to increase its bills. Both Welsh providers are in the middle of the range, with their proposed bills expected to rise by more than £200, adjusted for inflation, over the period. Southern Water wants the biggest jump of 91%, while South Staffordshire and Cambridge Water want the lowest jump of 24%.

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Water companies have been heavily criticized for widespread leaks and the amount of waste water being discharged. Over the previous weekend, sewage alerts were issued for 19 beach and coastal destinations in Wales due to pollution from stormwater sewage or poor water classification. Surfers Against Sewage posted the warnings on their website on Saturday, May 18. Later that afternoon, lifeguards at Barry Island told swimmers to leave the sea due to water quality concerns. Dŵr Cymru later said the alert was incorrect.

Mike Keil, chief executive of CCW, said the bill increases “will come as a big surprise to people”. He said: “People really want to see improvements, they understand it takes investment, but I think the scale of what’s on offer here will come as a real shock and that’s why the water companies are redoubling their efforts to explain what people get their money’s worth.”

Leah Mutselu, CCW’s senior head of policy for Wales, added: “These proposed bill increases would put enormous pressure on households in Wales who are barely making ends meet or can no longer afford their water bill. It’s seriously worrying that such a small percentage of households think what’s on offer is affordable, according to the companies’ own research.

“Customers want to see water companies taking better care of the environment. They understand that there is a cost associated with this, but people need to see and experience the difference in service that they and their environment are getting.”

James Jessick, managing director of Hafren Dyfrdwy, said: “The water and waste water bill in Hafren Dyfrdwy continues to be the lowest in Wales and we remain committed to keeping the bill affordable. Over the last few years we have kept our bill as low as possible and like many businesses we have seen rising costs as well as increased investment in a secure water supply for future generations.

“We understand that any increase in household bills can be worrying, which is why help is available for customers who may need it. A range of support packages are available, such as the Here2Help scheme, and we have extended our financial support to help 40% more customers this year.”

The list of proposed price increases (all figures are essizes for average bills, but costs will vary depending on the assessed value of the property):

A spokesman for Dwr Cymru said: “We submitted our plans to Ofwat last year as part of the five-year business planning process. We have outlined our proposal to invest £4 billion to improve the service between 2025 and 2030 to address some of the growing challenges we face in terms of climate change, customer expectations and growing environmental liabilities.

“Our plans outlined the need to increase customer accounts to support these changes. As a not-for-profit company, every penny from customers’ bills goes towards maintaining and improving our services, and any financial surplus is used to accelerate investment and provide social fares for those customers struggling to make ends meet.

“We will always aim to keep our bills as low as possible, but we also need to invest in improving services for today’s customers and also avoid piling on further problems for future generations. Ofwat will give its initial feedback on our plans in June before making a final decision at the end of the year. Only after these decisions are made will we be certain about potential future price increases.

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