UK water firms unveil £14.4 billion proposal for 2024-25 following ten years of decreasing bills in real value

Water companies in England and Wales are set to make a historic investment of over £14.4 billion (more than $18 billion) in 2024-25, marking the highest annual investment to date. This substantial investment aims to ensure a reliable supply of clean water in the face of changing climate conditions, as well as cleaner rivers and seas for public enjoyment.

The investment will facilitate the construction of 10 new reservoirs, the expansion of numerous wastewater treatment facilities, resulting in increased sewage treatment capacity, and the repair and replacement of over 2,000 kilometers of pipes.

At the same time, a record 2 million households are currently receiving financial assistance with their bills, nearly double the number from last year, with over £1 billion of support provided to customers since 2020. This support includes reduced tariffs, payment breaks, and debt forgiveness. Customers are encouraged to reach out directly to their water company to explore available assistance options if they have concerns.

Specific support is also accessible for low-income customers who require significant water usage for essential family or health reasons through the WaterSure scheme. Additionally, a wide range of assistance, not limited to financial aid, is available through the Priority Services Register for various individuals, from those with sensory or mobility challenges to parents with infants under 12 months old.

Despite the substantial investment, bill increases are lower than those experienced in the previous financial year, with customers seeing their bills rise by approximately £2 per month (6%). Compared to the high levels of inflation observed in recent years, this represents a real terms decrease of around 15% over the past decade. If water bills had kept pace with inflation since 2014-15, they would be approximately £60 higher today.

Customers will pay £1.29 per day for sewerage services and high-quality drinking water. Detailed information about the new average bills can be found here.

David Henderson, Chief Executive of Water UK, stated: “Next year will witness unprecedented levels of investment from water companies to secure the future security of our water supply and significantly reduce sewage pollution in rivers and seas. Customers across the country will witness the results of this investment, including the repair or replacement of over 2,000 kilometers of pipes and expanded sewage treatment capacity.”

Examples of what the 2024-25 investment by water companies will deliver include:

  •  The commencement of testing for the 25 km Tideway super sewer, diverting storm flows away from the River Thames for the first time and becoming fully operational later in 2025, leading to a 95% reduction in sewage pollution into the River Thames.
  •  Commencement of work on the Havant Thicket reservoir in Hampshire, which will be the first reservoir built in the UK in over 30 years.
  • United Utilities beginning work on replacing significant portions of the 110 km Haweswater Aqueduct, which has served 2.5 million people in Cumbria, Lancashire, and Greater Manchester for sixty years.
  •  Severn Trent delivering large-scale projects including a £25 million project to install a new sewer system in Stroud and a £76 million flood alleviation scheme in Mansfield.
  • South East Water completing construction of a new £39 million water treatment works in March 2025, providing new water resources in Kent.
  • South West Water progressing plans to bring desalination to Cornwall as part of its £125 million investment to increase water resources available in Cornwall by around 45%, and in Devon by around 30%.
  •  Welsh Water investing over £12 million near Pontypool to reduce spills and enhance water quality in the nearby River Usk and Afon Lwyd.

The funds raised by increased water bills are guaranteed to be used solely for improvements in water and sewerage systems. If these improvements are not delivered, bills will automatically be reduced by the regulator. Increased bills are only permitted when they contribute to genuinely necessary investments in our water and sewerage systems.

Source : UK water

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