Water bill rises to be scaled back

EAST Anglian families will face annual water bill rises of 0.6pc above the rate of inflation for the next five years if plans are given the go-ahead.Anglian Water, which serves 2.

EAST Anglian families will face annual water bill rises of 0.6pc above the rate of inflation for the next five years if plans are given the go-ahead.

Anglian Water, which serves 2.6 million properties across East Anglia and the East Midlands, has published its final business proposal for the five years from 2010, which bosses say will secure 7,000 jobs and provide �2.26bn of investment.

It would mean householders' bills will rise by 3pc above inflation during that time, or the equivalent of about �11.

Today's figures have been welcomed by the East of England Development Agency and business leaders. Deborah Cadman, Eeda chief executive, said: “The news of Anglian Water's plan to invest nearly �2.3bn over the next five years is great news for our economy. Our region is well-placed to lead the UK economy out of recession and Eeda is working with partners locally, regionally and nationally to ensure continued investment throughout the down-turn.”

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Anglian Water, which provides water and water waste services, revealed a draft plan in August which included a 3.5pc rise above inflation over five years and investment of �2.5bn but in light of the current economic climate it has revised the figures.

Other water companies, including Essex and Suffolk Water, will publish their final plans later today.

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Jonson Cox, Anglian Water's chief executive, said: “Times are tough at the moment and bills must be kept affordable for essential services like water. In setting out our proposed pricing structure for the next five years we will ensure that there are no surprises for those taking care of all-important family budgets.

“As we work hard to deliver afford-able water we are facing rising costs, such as business rates that are anticipated to increase by up to �33m a year, and a mounting electricity bill to keep the water flowing to customers' taps.

“Of all water and sewerage companies, Anglian Water customers had the lowest increases in their bills between 2005 and 2010 and we want to keep them as low as possible over the next five years too.”

He added: “We must face up to our biggest challenges too, which are the impacts of climate change in this low-lying, flat area, and the development of thousands of new homes across our region.”

Water industry regulator Ofwat is set to issue draft guidance on price limits in July.

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