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Four in 10 consumers say water bills are unfair

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Water companies are failing to convince households their bills are fair and provide value for money, says report.

The Consumer Council for Water found 40 per cent of households don’t think their water bill is fair, despite 90 per cent of customers being satisfied with the service they receive.

The group’s latest annual Water Matters survey shows there remains a gulf between customers’ high satisfaction with their water and sewerage services and much lower satisfaction levels with the fairness of what they are charged.

The report also shows that customers in Wales are significantly more satisfied than households in England when it comes to most aspects of their water company, including service, value for money and fairness.

The council has repeatedly warned the industry it could pay a high price for its complacency in changing customers’ views on the fairness of their bills, which have remained static for the past eight years. Satisfaction with value for money has also flatlined during that period at around 72 per cent for water services.

Dr Mike Keil, head of policy and research for the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Customers’ perceptions over the fairness of their bills have languished behind satisfaction with service for almost a decade and companies cannot afford to ignore people’s concerns any longer.”

“Fairness reflects people’s wider views and confidence in the industry and companies that are complacent run the risk of increasing discontent among their customers.”

The Consumer Council for water suggests water companies provide more information for customers throughout the year on the issues they care about in a bid to change people’s perceptions on fairness and value for money.

The report says customers want to know exactly how their cash is being used to tackle issues such as leakage and safeguarding the future of their water supply.

Many households need this reassurance from their company given that fewer customers (73 per cent, down from 77 per cent) have confidence their tap water supply will be available longer term without restrictions. Prolonged heatwaves, like the one witnessed last summer, and growing awareness of climate change could erode confidence even further unless companies provide assurance they are taking the right action.