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New charges help fund improvements and support jobs

Southern Water’s bills will increase by an average of £31 in 2012-13 – helping to pay for a £1.8 billion programme of service and environmental improvements, boosting the local economy and supporting thousands of jobs.

As a result, the average bill for customers receiving both water and wastewater services will be £416 - a daily cost of about £1.15. The increase on last year’s average bill of £385 equates to just over £2.50 per month.

The company’s bills, agreed with regulator Ofwat, not only cover the day-to-day running costs of the business but also contribute to the improvement programme which is taking place from 2010 to 2015.

Chief Executive Matthew Wright said: “This investment is the equivalent of spending almost £1,000 for every property in the Southern Water region, giving a big boost to the local economy at a time of economic downturn.

“By ensuring investment in our communities we are able to support thousands of jobs, while delivering improved services and a wide range of environmental improvements, such as cleaner seas and rivers.”

Southern Water currently employs 1,816 staff, 287 more than a year ago, including 56 apprentices. Additionally, the company indirectly supports more than 2,900 jobs through its capital investment programme.

The company’s spending programme includes more than 330 environmental projects, more than any other water company, to meet the latest European legislation.

The largest of these is the £300 million Cleaner Seas for Sussex project in the Brighton and Hove area, due to be operational by the end of March 2013, along with other schemes to upgrade treatment works, including at Overton in Hampshire, Lidsey in Sussex and Lydd in Kent.

The improvement programme will see 60km of water mains and sewers renewed in 2012/13 along with schemes to safeguard water supplies, improve water quality, reduce leakage and help prevent flooding.

Between 2010 and 2015, Southern Water is also installing more than 500,000 water meters for customers as part of its 25-year plan to manage resources in the South East, an area which is officially classified as water-stressed by the Government.

Customers who have a water meter installed tend to use ten per cent less water. This not only reduces their bills but also reduces their energy costs because about 30 per cent of power consumption in homes is associated with using water.

As a result the average 2012-13 water bill for Southern Water customers who have a meter and pay for what they use is £57 lower than for those who are not metered - £391 compared with £448.

Mr Wright said: “While our charges have risen to meet the enormous cost of our investment, we have worked hard to ensure that those increases are kept to a minimum.

“At the same time, our metering programme is bringing a fairer charging system, giving customers control over the amount they spend on our services by ensuring they pay for only what they use.”

Note: Southern Water’s average charges will be as follows:

  Water Sewerage Combined
  2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13
Average household bill (£) 138 149 246 267 385 416
Average metered household bill (£) 131 143 221 247 352 391
Average non-metered household bill (£) 145 156 267 292 412 448

These charges follow a five-year Price Review (2010-2015) by Ofwat which means Southern Water bills move in line with November 2011 inflation (5.2 per cent) plus three per cent, giving an overall increase of 8.2 per cent on the average household bill.

Southern Water fully appreciates some customers may have difficulty paying their water bill. Our website explains the schemes we can offer, including payment plans, special tariffs, benefits advice and charitable grants, which may help. Customers can also call our dedicated debt advice centre on 0845 272 0845.

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