Britain’s biggest water company plans inflation-busting price rises over the next six years that could leave customers paying around £100 a year more by the end of the decade. Thames Water wants to review current price rules agreed with regulator Ofwat and to increase customers’ bills by at least £15 next year.
The company then plans an above-inflation increase for the following five years, which will leave the average customer with a bill of more than £450 a year by 2020.
The company will justify the price increase to the regulator by claiming there have been recent unforeseen costs and there is a need to invest in major infrastructure projects, including a new £4.1bn super-sewer to cope with London’s rising population.
However, the organisation that represents the water firms’ customers, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), said it was “concerned” by plans for above-inflation price rises in the current economic climate. Steve Hobbs, policy manager at CCWater, said: “Due to the wider context of the economy and the pressures householders are under due to their budgets, more than ever Thames, and all the other companies, have to listen to customers.
“Really if a company is looking at above-inflation rises it needs to justify it and show that it has listened to customers, explained the reasons for those increases, and crucially show customers have accepted it. We will be looking for evidence of that.
“The financial performance of the industry, especially in the last couple of years, has been pretty good. I think the time has come for that gain to benefit the customers as well as the shareholders. We would like to see a better balance.”