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Suffolk: Water bills set to rise

PUBLISHED: 09:21 09 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 06 July 2010

FAMILIES in Yarmouth and parts of Suffolk could see their annual water bills rise by inflation-busting levels by 2015 to help pay for a major investment programme to improve water supply.

FAMILIES in Yarmouth and parts of Suffolk could see their annual water bills rise by inflation-busting levels by 2015 to help pay for a major investment programme to improve water supply.

Essex and Suffolk Water announced yesterday that it wants to raise water bills by an average 3.4pc a year for the next five years to support a £1.27bn investment scheme.

If approved by regulator Ofwat, the increase would mean that 760,000 householders in Essex, Suffolk and the Yarmouth area would pay an annual average bill of £195 in 2014/15 compared to £166 for 2009/10.

Last night the rise was criticised by the Consumer Council for Water, which is lobbying the company to cut the increase to help cash-strapped families.

Sir James Perowne, chairman of the council said: “The package that the company is putting forward is so big and so expensive that many custom-ers will find the proposed prices unacceptable or even unaffordable.

“We recognise that some price increases may be necessary, but the company needs to be realistic about what its customers can afford, especially in the current economic situation.”

The increase follows an earlier announcement by Anglian Water that it wants to increase bills for 2.6 million properties in the region by inflation plus 3pc by 2014/15.

Money from the raised bills by Essex and Suffolk Water - which provides water but not sewerage services in the Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Southwold and Eye areas - will help fund a planned £150m extension of the company's Abberton reservoir near Colchester and the maintenance of existing water treatment facilities.

John Cuthbert, managing director, said: “There have been a number of significant and unavoidable changes since we published our initial draft plan making it inevitable that bills will be higher than we initially envisaged.

“We appreciate that this will be unwelcome news for customers and we have done all we can to manage the impact of increased costs, as well as phasing prices to avoid a large unacceptable increase in 2010/11.”

Yesterday the Consumer Council for Water said it was encouraged by Anglian Water's lower 3pc plus inflation bill increase, which will secure 7,000 jobs and help fund £2.2bn of investment.

Ofwat will decide on both water companies' prices rises and investment plans in November.

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