Water Industry News

Ofwat Calls For Innovation With Water Bills & Charging

Industry regulator Ofwat has issued a call for water companies around the UK to try out more innovative ways of charging their customers to help make bills more affordable and to encourage more responsible and sustainable water usage.


The watchdog has also just confirmed its latest good practice principles for trialling different ways for bills to be paid. At the moment, these bills are set on a flat standard amount based on the property type, or on a flat rate based on how much water is used.


But under the updated rules, trials could include seasonal charging to reduce water bills in the winter months, reducing bills for properties that have permeable driveways and water butts in place to help reduce flooding and pollution risks.


In addition, charges could be brought in to support messages about water use reduction at times when fewer resources are available.


Suppliers appear to already be making inroads where these trials are concerned, such as Affinity Water, which provides water supplies across the south-east of England. The company intends to be the first to bring in a charging trial under these new Ofwat rules.


It’s expected to go live later in the year, with approximately 1,5000 pre-selected domestic customers charged a cheaper rate for using a lower amount of water, with prices rising progressively the more water is used. The outcome is expected to be that at least two out of three of these properties will pay less for water supplies than they do at the moment.


Ofwat CEO David Black said: “We know that an increasing number of customers are struggling with cost of living pressures. At the same time, water resources are being impacted by climate change which poses significant long-term challenges to river water health and security of water supply.


“While charging is only one approach, companies need to use every tool at their disposal to support affordability, encourage us all to use water wisely and reduce our impact on the environment.


“We are encouraged that Affinity Water is leading the way in developing ways to reduce bills for customers while protecting our precious water resources. We want to see more companies seeking out and implementing innovative solutions.”


Other plans featured in Ofwat’s good practice principles include robust trial design and evaluation and effective customer engagement and support, such as through addressing household leakage rates.


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