Inflation 'will dictate bill rises'

Water billsYorkshire Water has announced that its bills will be less than expected for the next financial year, and that it will control prices until 2020.

In the wake of controversy over recently announced rises in domestic energy prices, the company says it has decided to increase bills in line with inflation next year, rather than implementing the planned increase that was agreed with industry regulator Ofwat in 2009.

Yorkshire Water will disclose a plan on Monday to keep bills at this lower level from 2016-20.

Chief executive Richard Flint said : "Yorkshire Water bills are already lower than the national average but we are committed to doing even more to help our customers. We understand the pressures on households and that's why we're planning to keep bills in line with inflation for the next six years.
"This is a challenging plan that we are confident we'll deliver through prudent financial management, sharing company efficiencies with customers and by reducing our returns to investors."

The average household bill in Yorkshire next year will be £373 which is £6 lower than planned.

Andrea Cook, regional chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: "This customer-focused decision by Yorkshire Water to limit price increases for next year, at a time when consumers face economic pressures from all directions, is welcomed.

"Customers on low and fixed incomes struggle to keep up even with small bill increases and this will be of particular benefit to them. The decision reinforces that the benefits of improved performance can be shared by shareholders and customers alike."

Earlier this month Maria Eagle, the shadow environment secretary, said in an interview with the Yorkshire Post newspaper that it should be compulsory for firms to offer lower bills for poorer households.

Water firms are spending too much effort on engineering their finances to avoid paying tax on their profits, and not enough time helping customers struggling to pay bills, she said.

Water companies agree their prices every five years with Ofwat.

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