Households face 2% rise in water bills

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Households in England and Wales will be charged an average £395 for their water and sewerage over the coming year - an increase of £6 as companies invest in tackling leakage and flooding.

Water UK, which represents water companies, said the average 2% increase is in line with five-year plans confirmed by regulator Ofwat in 2014, and will contribute to a £44 billion investment in services and environmental improvements.

It comes as companies roll out compulsory water meters for households in areas of the South East designated as being under "serious water stress".

Water UK said almost all companies now have social tariffs in place to help cut bills for low-income households by as much as 90%.

Water UK chief executive Michael Roberts said: "This year, details on bills in England and Wales are being published alongside information on how water companies are performing.

"We hope this will both inform the ongoing conversations about priorities between companies and their customers, and provide a signpost to the help available from each water company for those households who genuinely struggle to pay."

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) said only around half of the 400,000 households who stand to benefit from such schemes have signed up for help and are missing out on lower bills.

CCWater chief executive Tony Smith said: "Most customers will see their bills rise from April. That will come as a blow to those households already struggling to keep their head above water.

"The good news is water companies have a growing number of schemes to help customers who are feeling the pinch. Some of these can provide lower bills and therefore shield households from the effects of price rises.

"But a lot of that support is still not reaching those that need it most."