Water regulator says no case for £29 one-off charge to cover Thames ‘super-sewer’, increased costs and unpaid bills
The water regulator Ofwat plans to block an “unjustified” 8% increase on customer bills proposed by Thames Water.
Thames Water wants to add £29 to the bills of its 14 million customers in London and the south of England, arguing that the one-off charge was needed to help pay for the Thames tideway ‘super-sewer’ in the capital, as well as an increase in Environment Agency charges and a spike in unpaid bills. The price hike would take the average annual bill to almost £400 by 2015.
Ofwat said the company had failed to justify the increase, having only made the case for a £7 increase to bills.
Its chief regulation officer, Sonia Brown, said: “We said we would challenge Thames Water’s request. We have looked at the details and do not believe the current evidence justifies an increase in bills.”
Thames Water now has the chance to submit new evidence before Ofwat makes a final decision in November.
The rebuff is yet another sign of toughness from the water regulator, which last month accused Thames Water of underspending on sewer flood defences and not maintaining its waste water network.
Under water industry privatisation rules, companies are able to ask for supplementary charges to be levied on their customers, but have to prove their case to Ofwat.
Thames Water is the only one of the 19 regulated water companies to ask for a supplementary charge and it follows an attempt in 2009 to raise bills by 19%. This earlier request was knocked back by Ofwat, which allowed Thames Water to raise its bills by an extra 3% only.
A spokesman for Thames Water said: “We will review Ofwat’s draft proposals, and submit our response in due course.”
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