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Average Water Bill To Rise Around £30

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11:55am 17th March 2014
(Updated 11:55am 17th March 2014)

The cost of water in Cornwall is set to rise £30 over the next five years.

South West Water is revealing how much we will have to pay right up to 2020.

We already have some of the highest bills in the country, despite a government rebate of £50.

Now bosses say "efficient financing" mean that prices will be 13% lower "in real terms" by 2020, but the effect of that saving will be wiped out by inflation - if it continues at its current rate.

South West Water says it has been able to take around £20 off the average household bill, meaning the increase would have been far bigger.

The average water bill this year is around £499. By 2020 it is likely to have reached £530.

South West Water Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: "Our business plan got a big thumbs up from customers who helped to shape it, and it has been praised by the regulator. It represents a real partnership with the communities we serve.

"We recognise that hard-pressed households and businesses want value for money and continued investment in services and the environment. We look forward to delivering on their behalf."

But nowhere in today's publicity does the company mention that customers will end up paying more, even if the charges are down to inflation rather than increasing costs.

At one point in an explanatory diagram the company boasts, "[Average bills will be] up to £20 lower by 2019/20 through efficient financing - 13% real reduction in bills."

Challenged by Pirate FM spokesperson Monica Read said: "It goes up by inflation then comes down by the reductions, the efficiencies that we're forecasting. It would have been much higher than that but we've put in efficiencies and cost reductions that get us down to that figure. That is less than inflation. It would have been around £100, I think, if we had included the total forecast of inflation."

The plan also includes millions of pounds to be spent on schemes to prevent flooding around Truro, Falmouth and north Cornwall while cleaning up bathing water quality, ahead of tough new European standards.

That will mean improvements at places like Summerleaze, Par and Readymoney Cove near Fowey. There will also be improvements along the Helford and Fal rivers.

Welcoming today's news, Charles Howeson, Chair of the independent WaterFuture Customer Panel, said:  "The WaterFuture Customer Panel offered constructive challenge to South West Water's 2015-20 business plan as it was developed. The company listened and acted upon what customers said, and this strong public engagement has had a direct impact on the contents of the business plan which has been recognised by Ofwat. 

"The plan achieved an 84% acceptance rate from customers. Today's acceptance by South West Water of Ofwat's guidance is good news for customers, as bills are forecast to fall even lower than previously planned."

11:55am 17th March 2014

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