MSE News

Water bills to rise by less than planned from April 2024 as firms hit with £114 million penalty – here's what we know

Some water bills in England and Wales could rise by less than planned from April 2024, as 12 water companies have been hit with a collective £114 million penalty for missing targets on pollution, leaks and customer service.

Water regulator Ofwat has ordered the 12 underperforming companies to take off the £114 million from next year's household bills.

However, this DOESN'T mean your bill will be cut, or even frozen – just that it will go up by less than it otherwise might have. This year, for example, water bills rose by an average of 7.5% despite 11 water companies collectively reducing bills by £150 million due to missing similar targets. 

Meanwhile, five suppliers will be allowed to increase how much they charge from April 2024 after exceeding targets in certain areas. 

If you're looking to save on your water bill, see our Cut water bills guide. Note that water bills work differently in Scotland, while there's no domestic charge in Northern Ireland. 

Firm-by-firm: how overall water bills will change next year

For full info on what your supplier will do from April 2024, see our table below. Firms listed in white have to lower bill hikes, while firms listed in blue will be allowed to charge more than planned.

However, it's not yet clear how this will affect what individual households pay, as firms are allowed to increase prices in line with inflation and other factors, and these rises are yet to be announced.

The amount water providers will increase or decrease water bills by from April 2024

Water supplier Change in overall customer bills from April 2024*
Affinity Water  Decrease by £8.1 million
Anglian Water  Decrease by £22.4 million
Dŵr Cymru  Decrease by £24.1 million
Hafren Dyfrdwy  Decrease by £0.5 million
Northumbrian Water  Decrease by £0.1 million
Portsmouth Water  Increase by £0.3 million
SES Water  Decrease by £1.1 million
Severn Trent Water  Increase by £88.1 million
South East Water  Decrease by £5.2 million
South Staffs Water (incl. Cambridge Water) Increase by £0.9 million 
South West Water (South West area, incl. Bournemouth Water)  Decrease by £9.2 million
South West Water (Bristol area, incl. Bristol Water)  Decrease by £2.6 million
Southern Water  Decrease by £42.9 million 
Thames Water  Decrease by £100.7 million
United Utilities  Increase by £25.2 million
Wessex Water  Increase by £8 million
Yorkshire Water  Decrease by £19.8 million

*This total excludes include any industry-wide price rises that may be announced for April 2024.

No water companies were ranked as being industry leaders overall

Ofwat's annual 'Water Companies' Performance Report' judges water companies against a range of metrics, such as pollution, leakage and customer service, categorising them as 'leading', 'average' or 'lagging'. This year, no company was ranked 'leading' overall.

Seven companies were categorised as 'lagging' – Anglian Water, Dŵr Cymru, South East Water, Bristol Water (part of South West Water), Southern Water, Thames Water, and Yorkshire Water.

Overall, progress in the industry has been "too slow". David Black, chief executive of Ofwat said: "We will continue to use all our powers to ensure the sector delivers better value."

Our top tips for saving on your water bill

Unlike energy and broadband, where you can switch away to get a better deal, you're stuck with the water company that supplies your area. However, there are still ways to cut down your bill:

  • Switch to a free water meter. If there are more bedrooms in your home than people, getting a free water meter could help you save £100s as you only pay for what you use instead of a fixed amount. To get a water meter installed, head to your provider's website and see if you can apply – you'll usually need to fill in an application form – or give it a call and ask.

  • Ask for an assessed charge bill. If you can't get a water meter, you may be able to save by getting an 'assessed charge bill'. This is worked out on details such as how many people live in your home, but varies from company to company. You could also consider applying for a social tariff. See our Cut your water bill guide for more info.

  • Check if you're owed a sewage rebate. If your home isn't connected to the public sewer, you don't need to pay waste water charges – see our MSE News story for how to check and challenge your bills.

  • Use less water. See if you can get free water saving gadgets. And see MoneySavers' top tips to cut your usage

  • Struggling to pay? Contact your supplier. All companies offer some kind of support – this can be anything from providing repayment plans, discounts or even a cap on how much you pay. 

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