UK consumers are set to pay an average 5.6% extra for their water bills in 2012-13 due to increases introduced by regulatory board Ofwat. The increase, which is based on a rise in the Retail Price Index (RPI) in November of 5.2%, is around 10% less than the rise proposed by the water companies. Ofwat set the price of “real” rises in 2009, pledging to keep bill increases at a similar level to inflation, but unexpectedly high inflation figures have led to equally large bill rises.
In terms of how the rise is spread across the country, the South West will now face the highest bills, with an average increase of 4.7% or £24, while the highest percentage increase will occur in Bristol, where the change equates to an 8.8% raise. Consumers in Wales appear to have a slightly easier time of it with a 3.8% increase, but with the public sector pay freezes affecting a large number of families, the figure is still problematic. In 2011, UK salaries rose only 1.4% while the CPI inflation rate increased 5%, leaving many with effectively lower salaries, so such drastic increases in a vital, everyday resource are not likely to be readily received.
Ofwat chief executive officer, Regina Finn, said: “We understand that any bill rise is unwelcome, particularly in tough economic times. Inflation feeds through into water bills, and this is driving these rises. We will make sure customers get value for money.”
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