In a joint letter to water and wastewater company CEOs, David Black, Chief Executive of Ofwat and Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of CCW, have asked for more support to be given to customers.
The letter acknowledges that while water bills have been rising below inflation in recent years, many customers already feel their water bill is unaffordable. This will be further exacerbated as higher inflation increases the cost of living next year. In response, Ofwat and CCW are asking companies to:
- show that they understand the needs of their customers and respond accordingly.
- ensure that more customers are benefiting from social tariffs.
- consider how they can mitigate any significant inflationary increases in customers’ bills for 2023-24.
David Black and Emma Clancy have also requested companies to set out, by 8 December, their plans for supporting customers through cost of living pressures. Both CCW and Ofwat will engage in discussions with the companies and report back on the plans, so the scale of companies’ ambition is clear to customers.
David Black, Ofwat Chief Executive, said: “It is now for companies to demonstrate that they can find ways to help customers through this affordability crisis while not compromising on their performance. I look forward to engaging with them further on their plans.”
According to CCW’s annual Water Matters survey as many as 1 in 5 of some of the most vulnerable households – including people with disabilities, as well as unemployed people – feel their water bill is unaffordable.
Water companies are allowed to increase bills by inflation, using CPIH (the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs). Water bills have always been linked to inflation, but water companies do not have to increase their bills by inflation.
CCW’s recommendation for a new water affordability scheme to end the current postcode lottery of existing financial support emerged from its independent review of water affordability.
Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said: “Struggling households need immediate relief and the long-term security of knowing they can afford something as essential as water. We should not have to choose between water poverty and progress.”
The joint letter follows a consultation from Ofwat earlier this year calling for trials to help with the cost of living.
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