A Southern Water leaflet outlining possible bill rises for customers of more than 70% between now and 2030 are not set, says the water company, but options being explored as part of a wider programme of research.
The rises, set out on a focus group leaflet, show an option of rises from £439 for the 2023/24 year increasing up to £759 by 2030. That figure includes £187 for investment required by regulators in Southern Water infrastructure and an additional £10 for further investments plus £82 factored in for inflation.
The leaflet does not show the minimum discount of at least 45% which would still be applied to customers on the Essentials Tariff, supporting those in financial hardship.
Clean water campaigner Feargal Sharkey, who visited Ramsgate in February along with Green Party peer Jenny Jones, reacted to the news, saying: “Ofwat and water companies
confirmed, we have already paid all of the money needed to fix the sewage system We should not have to pay twice for a service we never received, Water companies’ shareholders should pay.”
Katy Taylor, Chief Customer Officer, said: “We regularly listen to the views of customers from across our region when we plan future investment in our network, and we discuss the possible impacts on bills.
“We know our communities want to see us investing to improve our environmental outcomes and to do it wisely, but we also recognise the concerns about rising payments in the face of a cost of living crisis. This is why it is important we work together with our communities, in finding the right balance.
“We continue to support customers who need help to pay their bills, with a minimum 45% discount offered to around 125,000 households.”
A Water UK spokesperson said: “Companies regularly test a wide range of proposals with their customers that combine different investment ideas. This is one such example. Consultation with customers is used to shape final plans and companies will be releasing more information on bills and investment later this year.”
In March this year Southern Water director Tim McMahon told Thanet councillors that price review plans that include future investment will be submitted with the water regulator by this Autumn and those proposals will be confirmed by 2024. He said it is likely that work will include a mains replacement programme, plans for water recycling systems as well as the pledge to cut discharges by 2030.
Discharges, meanwhile, continue with a release from the Broadstairs Short Sea outfall pipe on Sunday night lasting for one hour and 29 minutes, affecting water quality at Botany and Joss bays.
Southern Water will submit a proposal for its 2025-2030 business plan to regulator Ofwat in October 2023, before a final plan is agreed in December 2024.