Southern Water bills to rise by average of 5.3 per cent

The average water and wastewater bill wil increase up by 5.3 per cent in 2013/2014 for Southern Water customers, above the average national increase of 3.5 per cent.

The Worthing-based company, which serves most of the Horsham district, will increase bills by an average of £23, or £1.92 a month, for the next business year.

The average household with a water meter will now pay £430 a year.

The company’s bills cover day-to-day running costs of supplying drinking water and taking away and treating wastewater, as well as contributing to a major capital improvement programme.

At £1.8 billion, it is the equivalent of spending nearly £1,000 for every property in the Southern Water region over the five-year period.

The programme includes the replacement of hundreds of kilometres of water mains and sewers, along with schemes to help prevent flooding, safeguard water supplies, reduce leakage, improve water quality and enhance wastewater treatment.

Darren Bentham, chief customer officer for Southern Water, said: “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 rivers and seas.

“Our five-year spending programme includes more than 330 environmental projects – that’s more than any other water company and makes up a large part of our investment. These projects are in response to new European legislation and will have many environmental benefits.

“However, it’s a fine balance - while our charges must rise to meet the enormous cost of our investment, we have a duty to our customers to keep our increases to a minimum.”

OFWAT, the country’s water regulator, announced average national increases of 3.5 per cent this morning (Tuesday February 5), taking into account the rate of inflation at 3 per cent.

Thames Water’s bills will rise by 5.5 per cent, while Wessex Water’s charges will increase by 4.9 per cent.

Southern Water employs more than 2,000 staff, including 50 apprentices and 260 people in two Sussex-based call centres. Additionally, the company indirectly supports about 2,900 jobs through its capital investment programme.

It is currently embarking on a programme of installing water meters across the Horsham district.

For customers struggling to pay their water bill, call Southern Water on 0845 272 0845 for advice.

What do you think of the increase? Comment below or email ct.news@sussexnewspapers.co.uk