Water Bills Are Going Up

Southern Water's bills will increase by an average of £31 in 2012-13.

The company says it'll pay for a £1.8 billion programme of service and environmental improvements, boosting the local economy and supporting thousands of jobs.

As a result, the average bill for customers receiving both water and wastewater services will be £416 - a daily cost of about £1.15. The increase on last year's average bill of £385 equates to just over £2.50 per month.

The company's bills, agreed with regulator Ofwat, not only cover the day-to-day running costs of the business but also contribute to the improvement programme which is taking place from 2010 to 2015.

Chief Executive Matthew Wright said: "This investment is the equivalent of spending almost £1,000 for every property in the Southern Water region, giving a big boost to the local economy at a time of economic downturn.

"By ensuring investment in our communities we are able to support thousands of jobs, while delivering improved services and a wide range of environmental improvements, such as cleaner seas and rivers."

Southern Water currently employs 1,816 staff, 287 more than a year ago, including 56 apprentices. Additionally, the company indirectly supports more than 2,900 jobs through its capital investment programme.

The company's spending programme includes more than 330 environmental projects.

The improvement programme will see 60km of water mains and sewers renewed in 2012/13 along with schemes to safeguard water supplies, improve water quality, reduce leakage and help prevent flooding.

Between 2010 and 2015, Southern Water is also installing more than 500,000 water meters for customers as part of its 25-year plan to manage resources in the South East, an area which is officially classified as water-stressed by the Government.

Customers who have a water meter installed tend to use ten per cent less water.

As a result the average 2012-13 water bill for Southern Water customers who have a meter and pay for what they use is £57 lower than for those who are not metered - £391 compared with £448.

Mr Wright said: "While our charges have risen to meet the enormous cost of our investment, we have worked hard to ensure that those increases are kept to a minimum.

"At the same time, our metering programme is bringing a fairer charging system, giving customers control over the amount they spend on our services by ensuring they pay for only what they use."