Southern Water and South East Water announces inflation rate price rise for customers in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire

Southern Water and South East Water announces inflation rate price rise for customers in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire

Water companies have said they will increase bills by almost 10% due to “growing economic pressures”.

Southern Water and South East Water, which supply most of Kent, have said the price increase is in line with inflation and customers should expect their annual fee to increase by between 9% and 9.7%.

Homes in Broadstairs remained without water earlier this week. Image from a photo agency

The changes will see average annual bills rise from £401 – which the company says was 4% lower than the industry as a whole – to £439 for dual-service customers, while water-only bills are down £9 % and waste will only increase by 9.7%.

Southern Water claims the additional money raised will ensure it “can continue to improve performance and provide the service that customers and the environment deserve.”

Katy Taylor, Southern Water’s Chief Customer Officer, said: “We recognize that the cost of living crisis in the UK is of concern to many of our customers and as such plans to increase tariffs are never taken lightly.

“The rise this year reflects growing economic pressures from chemical, energy and wage inflation.”

The utility giant launched a £98million support package in December 2022 to help customers struggling.

A water leak on Augustine Road, Minster, in August 2022
A water leak on Augustine Road, Minster, in August 2022

Ms Taylor added that this latest price increase will allow them to help more people in difficulty.

“We’re channeling more money than ever into helping customers in need – especially those who may be struggling to pay their bills,” she said.

“This £98m will top up the support package we already offer our customers, including payment holidays, special tariffs, debt relief, bill cuts and household items allowances.

“If you know someone who is having a hard time paying their bills, please encourage them to get in touch with us as we can help,” she added.

South East Water plans to charge its customers an additional six pence a day, a 9.48% increase over last year’s average price.

It claims the surge is also in line with inflation and will “help with the significant costs the company sees for electricity and chemicals needed to produce drinking water at its treatment plants.”

“The increase this year reflects growing economic pressures from chemicals, energy and wage inflation”

Tanya Sephton, South East Water Customer Service Director, said: “This is undoubtedly a very difficult time for everyone and we are working hard to rapidly expand existing initiatives to ensure help is delivered where it is most needed, and often without our customers having to ask.

“Our average bill is 66p a day for all the water put into the household for drinking, cooking, cleaning, gardening and of course that extra hygiene that we know is so important.”

At the same time, South East Water has increased the earnings limit for its social tariff scheme by 9%, which caps the cost of mains water and waste water from £16,480 to £18,005.

Ms Sephton added: “We really encourage anyone who is concerned about their bill to contact us as soon as possible and we will help them find the right options for them.”

Southern Water has been in trouble with many customers in recent months, with some refusing to pay bills for fear of dumping sewage into the sea.

Queuing for water in Sheppey
Queuing for water in Sheppey

Homes in Broadstairs and Ramsgate were left without water earlier this week, for some the fourth supply problem in a month.

In December last year, roads were blocked in St Peters, Broadstairs, as customers queued to get bottled water after four days of dry taps following a leak.

Elsewhere in the county, roads on the Isle of Sheepey were flooded with water after long-running leaks in October.

In the summer, the island was hit when 30,000 homes were left without water during the heatwave, resulting in Southern Water embarking on a multi-million pound project to install a new pipe under the Swale to supply the island.

Also last summer, a woman criticized Southern Water for failing to repair a leak that was estimated to waste tens of thousands of liters of water a day in Sittingbourne.

The company is planning a £2 billion improvement package between 2020 and 2025 and recently announced details for a new reservoir at Broad Oak near Canterbury.

A spokesman said the company has not paid dividends to shareholders since 2017.

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