Water bill rises & Defra’s water company announcements

Today could represent a much-needed turning point for the water industry, but it is one step in a longer journey.

The Rivers Trust



Today Ofwat, the water industry regulator, has said that water bills in England and Wales are to rise by 21%, or £19 per year on average until 2030, in order to pay for much-needed investment. Ofwat's response to water company investment plans has been to limit the price rises requested by water companies by a third. This has helped to reduce the proposed bill increases for customers, but also knocks back the proposed £100bn of investment to £88bn - we need time to scrutinise this to understand the knock on to what that means for our water environment.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Steve Reed has also made announcements today on the government's plans to reform the water sector. Plans include requesting that Ofwat ensure funding for infrastructure improvement is ringfenced for the environment and prevented from being spent on bonuses or dividends, the formation of customer panels to hold water company bosses to account, the requirement for water companies to make customer and environment interests their primary objectives, and strengthened protection and compensation for households and businesses when their basic water services are affected.

The activities of the water industry have a huge influence on the health of our rivers.

Find our response below:

"Today could represent a much-needed turning point for the water industry, but it is one step in a longer journey.

"It is good to see our new Environment Secretary directing his department to prioritise water and pushing Ofwat on tighter regulation. Our water environment desperately needs investment and we the public need stronger controls and regulation of polluters. Measures announced today such as required changes in water companies' articles of association and the formation of new customer panels could represent a really important step in ensuring they are delivering for both people and the environment.

"At a time when lots of people are still feeling the financial pinch, The Rivers Trust is pushing for more transparency and collaboration around the whole system as we look into the details of what the rise in bills and investment announced this morning will actually mean for our environment. We will also continue to push for more use of nature alongside chemicals and concrete to deliver solutions that don’t break the bank and respect the bills that we, as customers, are being asked to pay.  

"We remain committed to working collaboratively throughout catchments, making sure solutions include landowners and highways and we welcome the Government's support in that."

Tessa Wardley, Director of Communications & Advocacy

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