Millions of Brits already struggling with soaring bills will today be hit by a fresh wave of punishing price rises when water companies bump up their fees.
The hikes have been branded a ‘slap in the face’ to hard-up families and come just hours after it was revealed polluting firms pumped raw sewage into rivers and seas across England for 1.75 million hours last year.
Among the companies hiking their prices the most is Southern Water, which was fined a record-breaking £90million for deliberately dumping billions of litres of raw sewage into the sea in July 2021.
The firm is increasing its rates by 11 per cent, with their average bills swelling from £396 to £439 a year.
News of the hike has been met with a scathing response by a council boss in Portsmouth, which has endured years of Southern Water dumping raw sewage into the sea around the Hampshire city.
‘Over the last 30 years Southern Water has prioritised giving big bonuses to their directors, helping their shareholders while not investing in the infrastructure we need,’ Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, head of Portsmouth City Council, said.
How much is YOUR water bill going up? This handy map from household finance experts Nous will tell you the price rise to expect from your water company.
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A huge sewage discharge has been caught on camera at one of Cornwall’s most picturesque beaches. The leak took place at Trevaunance Cove in St Agnes on October 30 and left locals outraged. It was one of thousands of incidents to have taken place across the UK last year
Sewage was pumped out at beaches across the UK, including this one in Sussex, last year. Now news water firms would be hiking their costs has been met with a scathing response by a council boss in Portsmouth, which has endured years of Southern Water dumping raw sewage into the sea around the Hampshire city
‘It’s a bit rich now they are coming to us as the customers to say ‘give us more money’ when they have been diverting money into the pockets of their directors and shareholders for 30 years and pumping sewage into our seas and rivers. It’s a slap in the face.’
Penny Mordaunt, leader of the House of Commons and Portsmouth North MP, said water firms needed to ‘play their part’ to ‘eliminate overflows’.
‘I will be scrutinising increases in water bills alongside the companies infrastructure investments to ensure these figures stack up,’ the senior Tory told MailOnline.
The average annual bill for water and sewerage charges will rise by £31 from £417 to £448, an increase of 7.5 per cent.
The exact amount change depends on where families live and how much water they use, with some area seeing higher jumps than others.
This blow to families’ budgets comes on the same day that council tax, mobile, broadband and NHS prescriptions all get more expensive.
The hike comes just days after it was revealed water firms will be forced to take money off bills if they pay out large bonuses to bosses while harming the environment.
Water companies shelled out a whopping £14.7million in bonuses, benefits and incentives during 2021, despite their records on pollution hitting new lows.
On Friday, the Environment Agency released figures showing polluting water firms had pumped raw sewage into rivers and seas across England for a staggering 1.75 million hours last year (stock picture)
Sewage alerts were issued for hundreds of coastal communities last year. In August, swimmers at two beaches were told to avoid to avoid the water after a broken pipe caused sewage to leak into the Tay, Scotland (pictured)
Senior Tory Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, said she would be ‘scrutinising’ water firms over their price hikes. While Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson (right), leader of Portsmouth City Council, blasted water companies for increasing their bills while still dumping raw sewage in the sea around the Hampshire city
Under new proposed rules firms will still be able to make payouts – but the regulator Ofwat will assess whether they match performance, including on the environment.
This is how much your water bills will go up by
This is a breakdown showing the average bill increases for companies covering England and Wales
Up 11 per cent with and average bill increasing from £445 to £492.
Up three per cent from £485 to £499.
Up 12 per cent from £331 to £372.
Up eight per cent from £362 to £391.
Severn Trent Water:
Up seven per cent from £391 to £419.
South West Water:
Up two per cent from £468 to £476.
Up 11 per cent from £396 to £439
Up nine per cent from £417 to £456.
Up six per cent from £417 to £443.
Up nine per cent from £462 to £504.
Up seven per cent from £416 to £446.
If the watchdog deems payout should no have been made, water companies will be ordered to cut customers’ bills so households are not paying for bonuses.
Emma Clancy, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, told the Telegraph: ‘Customers don’t want chief executives to be rewarded for failure, so we look forward to examining the detail of Ofwat’s proposals on bonuses.’
David Black, Ofwat’s chief executive, said the new plans were part of the regulator’s strategy to make companies ‘more accountable for their actions’.
‘In too many cases, bonuses paid do not reflect the reality of company performance,’ he added.
‘Customer trust is damaged when executive bonuses are not aligned to water company performance for customers and the environment.
‘We said that if companies did not address this we would take action, and that is exactly what we are doing.’
Ofwat has been slammed for not doing enough to stop water firms pumping sewage into rivers and beaches, or tackling leaks.
In a decision last October, Ofwat forced 11 of 17 water companies to cut their bills by a total of £150million after they missed targets on sewage pollution and flooding people’s homes.
Data released on Friday by the Environment Agency (EA) revealed there were an average of 824 spills per day – down a third on the previous year.
However, the EA attributed the reduction to dry weather, not water company action.
Water UK, which represents the water industry, accepted that there was ‘a colossal amount of work still to do’ to reduce sewage spills.
Unlike other utilities, customers are not able to shop around for a deal for their water.
Each area of the country has a water provider, and people who live there can’t switch to another company.
In most areas, people’s water bill also covers the cost of sewerage services. In some regions this service is done by a separate company, and households might receive two different bills.
Commenting on the price rises, a Water UK spokesperson said: ‘With an average increase of around 60p a week, most customers will again see a below-inflation increase in their water bill. However, we know that any increase is unwelcome, particularly at the moment.
‘That is why companies are also releasing an extra £200 million to help those that may be struggling.
Data from campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) shows 654 alerts of sewer overflows spilling sewage into bathing waters last summer, from 171 locations in England and Wales
‘Anyone with worries should contact their water company or go to supportontap.org for advice, and it’s worth remembering that water companies will never cut anyone off, or make them use a prepayment meter.’
Last month scores of Britons were warned not to swim at dozens of beaches after heavy rainfall led to sewage being discharged into bathing waters.
Surfers Against Sewage issued the warning which includes rivers as well as seaside hotspots. Swimming in these areas could lead to infections and illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses in the water.
The marine conservation charity monitors water quality across the nation to alert the public to areas affected by sewage.
Last month, Tripadvisor ranked the little known beach in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, as the best in the UK and the 12th best in Europe.
But a week later eco-activists Surfers Against Sewage warned the beaty spot was on their list of 83 beaches deemed unsafe to go swimming.
Other beaches on the warning list include, Southend Jubilee Beach, Sheerness, Folkestone, Dymchurch, Camber, Bognor Regis and Cowes.
Brighton, Blackpool and Whitstable are among the tourist hotspots deemed hazardous.
Scarborough, Saltburn, Whitby, Spittal, Amble Links, Warkworth, Seaham, Walney Biggar Bank and Pendower are also on the list.
The news sparked a furious response from locals living near some of the seaside beauty spots.
Kayleigh Hurst and daughter Lola, two, on the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, this week and Christian Dimascio (left) and Jay Formosa (right) at Jay’s kiosk on the seafront
Tripadvisor named Norfolk beach Gorleston-on-Sea, as being the best in the UK and the 12th best in Europe
Families at Gorleston and other beaches branded dangerous have questioned whether they are really as bad as feared and whether the reports will damage the local economy.
Jay Formosa, 47, who runs Jay Jay’s café and ice cream kiosk at the Norfolk sands, said: ‘It’s difficult to keep track of everything. One minute there’s a story saying our beach is the best, and then there is a warning about going in the water.
‘All I can say is that the beach is beautiful. I used to swim in the water every day at 7.30am until three or four-years-ago and I never came to any harm. I always found the water to be really clean. On some days you could even see the bottom.
‘People need to make their own minds up instead of automatically believing a report like this. The tide moves so quickly here that any pollution gets washed away quickly.’
Christian Dimascio, 50, whose family have sold ice cream on the seafront in Gorleston for more than 40 years, added: ‘I have ever known anyone complain about the quality of the water here.
‘The beach is packed in the summer with thousands of people going into the sea. I realise that there is a problem nationally with sewage overflows going into the sea or rivers – but it is no worse here than anywhere else.
‘It isn’t fair to single out Gorleston when every beach around the country is the same. You can tell how bad a beach is by seeing what is left at high tide – and hardly anything gets washed up here.
‘When you go down the Italian coast, you see these beautiful areas which are ruined by rubbish and plastic being washed up everywhere.’
All 83 beaches Britons are warned to AVOID due to sewage dumped
- Dhoon Bay
- Amble Links
- Druridge Bay North
- Druridge Bay South
- Blyth South Beach
- Tynemouth Cullercoats
- Seaham Hall Beach
- Seaham Beach
- Seaton Carew North
- Redcar Coatham
- Redcar Granville
- Redcar Stray
- Marske Sands
- Scarborough North Bay
- Scarborough South Bay
- Bridlington South Beach
- Gorleston Beach
- Southend Three Shells
- Southend Jubilee Beach
- Sheerness Canterbury
- Minster Leas
- West Beach, Whitstable
- Herne Bay Central
- Herne Bay
- St Marys Bay (Kent)
- St Leonards
- Normans Bay
- Pevensey Bay
- Brighton Kemptown
- Brighton Central – Brighton
- Hove Lawn
- Bognor Regis East
- Bognor Regis (Aldwick)
- Langstone Harbour
- Southsea East
- Stokes Bay
- St Helens
- Whitecliff Bay
- Colwell Bay
- Totland Bay
- Dunster North West
- Weston Main
- Weston-super-Mare Sand Bay
- Wharfe at Cromwheel – Ilkley Bathing Water
- St Annes
- St Annes North
- Blackpool South
- Blackpool Central
- Blackpool North
- Morecambe North
- Walney Biggar Bank
- Walney Sandy Gap
- Walney West Shore