Water and sewerage bills to rise by average 2%

(c) Sky News 2019: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/water-and-sewerage-bills-to-rise-by-average-2-11629585">Water and sewerage bills to rise by average 2%</a>

Average water and sewerage bills will rise by an average of 2% from 1 April, industry body Water UK has announced.

It said the below-inflation increase would typically see annual charges rise by £8 to £415 - though the change will vary depending on the supplier and the individual household.

Water UK claimed that, over the period from 2015 to 2020, bills would be falling in real terms - that is, taking into account the retail price index measure of inflation - by more than 5%.

The body also said companies would invest more than £8bn in 2019-20, in the fifth year of a £44bn spending commitment.

It said more than 370 million litres of water a day would be prevented from leaking from pipes over the five-year period and that companies were "on track" to help an extra 459,000 households who are struggling to pay.

Water UK chief executive Michael Roberts said it showed "a water industry that is dynamic and passionate about delivering real benefits for customers, the environment and the country as a whole".

But Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, called for more help for low-income customers.

He said: "Even (Taiwan OTC: 6436.TWO - news) just a small increase has the potential to hurt the three million households who tell us they struggle to afford their water bills.

"We'd like to see companies go further by dipping into their own pockets to help customers that are already feeling the pinch."

In October, MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BO - news) called for tougher targets for cutting water leaks after figures showed a "shocking" three billion litres are lost each day.

The House of Commons environment committee said industry targets to reduce leakage by 15% by 2025 were "not ambitious enough".