Anglian Water promises below inflation rise in household water bills from 2014

Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglian Water

Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglian Water - Credit: Anglian Water

Customers of Anglian Water are being promised a below inflation rise in household water bills and a commitment to spend £60m tackling leakages as part of a package of measures unveiled today.

Bosses are submitting proposals to the water regulator Ofwat which, if given the green light, would come into effect from 2015 to 2020.

As part of the measures, the firm is planning bill increases equal to half the rate of the retail price index – which currently would be a 1.8% rise, and it said it would bring in that change from 2014, a year before the new plan would come into effect.

Originally the firm had planned an inflation-only increase, but following a consultation of 50,000 customers, the firm said it had responded to calls from bill payers to keep prices down.

With energy firms under the spotlight for hiking up bills while raking in bigger profits, the firm has also pledged to boost support for vulnerable customers struggling to pay their bills, including working with the Citizens' Advice Bureau on new tariffs and setting aside £1m a year in its special assistance fund (an increase of 25%).

Peter Simpson, Anglian Water chief executive, said: 'I think there has been a growing realisation that the people that matter the most are the people who pay the bills, and if they think it's important, it makes sense that we should be doing that.'

The company also said it was committed to generating 'fair profits' but admitted it is sticking to its stance on executive bonuses and measures to keep its corporation tax bills down by offsetting it against debt interest, which had the seen the firm along with other water and utility companies come under fire from MPs.

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During the five years of the new plan, the firm also wants to spend more than £5bn on maintenance and essential services, to protect customers from the effects of severe weather, as well as environmental initiatives including a scheme to protect eels.

The firm also wants 95% of its customers to be using water meters by 2020.

Priority is also to be given to target extra help to vulnerable customers, with new tariffs and a 25% boost (to £1million a year)

Mr Simpson added that he was pleased that 90% of customers questioned about the plans approved them.

'We know budgets are under pressure, so our pledge to keep average bills below inflation for the next six years is the best possible way to help with the cost of living.

'We asked customers to help us draw up our business plan and to work with us to strike the right balance between keeping bills affordable while investing in essential services and securing future water supplies.

'We were overwhelmed by the positive response and have worked hard to exceed the many expectations placed on us.

'So as well as our six-year pledge on bills we will continue to spend money on the things people told us were most important to them – reducing leaks, encouraging more people to connect to a water meter, to protect families, businesses and communities from extreme weather, and to secure future water supplies against a growing population and the impacts of climate change.

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