Southern water huge 60% price hike

I have just received my latest water bill from Southern Water for the coming 12 months supply and fell off my chair reading of the 60% price hike they are introducing !


I live in a small 2 bed cottage and previously had a water bill for £248 which has been going up steadily but within acceptable limits throughout my history there.


They wanted to fit a meter but could not as it has a shared supply (which is a problem when you are in the shower and next door also puts a tap on- yes you guessed it - a much reduced pressure so its not a supply you can happily shout about)


Southern Water have just sent a letter saying over the next 3 years I will be put onto a changeover tariff and so this year
my water bill will go up 20% from 248 to £298 for 2016-17 !
and not only that it will go up a further 20% To £348 For 2017-18
And finally a further 20% to £398 in 2018-19 !


so an increase of a bill by 60% ie £150 in the next 3 years for a problematic service which is shared !!


The water companies have a complete monopoly at present and so we have to stay with our current supplier until 2020 when competition finally can kick in


What they are proposing is simply OFF THE CHART as far as utility bills increases go.


Is what they are doing Legal?


Is what they are doing Moral?


Is there anybody else who feels these price hikes are completely unjustifiable and should be challenged in the courts?


I would welcome any constructive advice from the MSE team or the General Public
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Comments

  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    edited 15 June 2016 at 6:20PM
    Welcome to the forum.

    It would appear you are in an area that the Government has decreed suffers from water shortage and allows Southern water to compulsorily fit meters.
    The truth is that the South of England is one of the driest areas in the UK. It has been classed as an ‘Area of Serious Water Stress’ by Defra, the Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

    As your property cannot be metered it seems you will be placed on an assessed charge. This charge equates to the average for your type of property. and is shown here:

    https://www.southernwater.co.uk/changes-to-charges

    The average annual bill in Southern Water is £411 in 2016/17. The assessed charge for a 2 bed property is £421.64(£23 less if you qualify for a rebate for SWD)

    So IMO the charges are legal.

    Opinions will obviously differ about it being moral or not. You were being charged on the Rateable Value(RV) of your property. That RV was based on the notional rent your property would command when last assessed(probably 1973) and RV finished in 1990 for everything except non-metered water charges.

    IMO everyone should pay metered charges and you have paid well below the average for however long you have lived in the property(post 1990) and the 'good times' are now ending.

    It is also pertinent to point out that you need to understand how all water companies are funded under the provisions of The Water Act(of Parliament). Southern Water are allowed by the Regulator under a 5 year plan to raise a fixed Revenue of £xxx million and make a profit of £yy million(provided they meet the laid down targets).

    Thus it doesn't matter a jot to Southern Water if you and a thousand others are charged zero or £1,000pa it has no effect on their profits. They simply increase/decrease the charges to all other customers to raise the same revenue. So many people on RV charges are in effect being subsidised by other customers.

    From the above you might get the impression that I am a 'company man'. Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole privatisation of Water was and is a disgrace. The companies are in a win/win situation and this is reflected in their 'bullet proof' share prices. There are so many anomalies in charging that you could fill a book.

    Sorry if that is news you didn't want to hear. If you want further advice, contact The Consumer Council for Water.
  • Zentex
    Zentex Posts: 9
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    I guess your analysis has to some extent put the issue into some kind of perspective including factors I knew nothing about and which were not explained to me by Southern Water


    Nothing can change the fact that a 60% rise in any utility bill over 3 years is a real shock to the system especially given a meter cannot be fitted without me personally paying for a new independent house supply which, given SW's monopoly the cost of this is usually of the order of 6 times what elec and gas supply charges come in at (personal experience of a new water supply at my last home)


    It is all the more galling since the cottage backs onto a beautiful chalk river with its inherent draw to come off the national supply forever and resort to a few pales of water for my daily needs and become a devotee of the stalwart Hanna Hauxwell of old ! (self composting toilet required too ofcourse)


    Yes I agree Water should be owned by the People of each country- it is a gift from the chap upstairs and should not be owned and managed by hedge funds etc


    Maybe its time to defuse the bomb to SW and have an ale instead- many people have a much worse time of life than I do ....... (I'll just have to budget for £150 less beer per year)


    Cheers !
  • deanos
    deanos Posts: 11,219
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    seems very unfair to base the usage on number of bedrooms, you could have 5 bedrooms but only 2 people living there
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    deanos wrote: »
    seems very unfair to base the usage on number of bedrooms, you could have 5 bedrooms but only 2 people living there

    As I stated earlier:
    There are so many anomalies in charging that you could fill a book.

    You could of course have 1 person living in the Two bed cottage. Some do base assessed charges on number of people and allow a single person charge.
  • deanos
    deanos Posts: 11,219
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    Thats why some company's base it on usage with a set of questions, much fairer IMO
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    deanos wrote: »
    Thats why some company's base it on usage with a set of questions, much fairer IMO

    What companies have that method?

    Obviously some companies question metered customers about their consumption in order to set the level of Direct Debit, or estimate if non-metered customers would be better off on a meter.

    However I am not aware of any non-metered customers who are charged on estimated usage. I believe the assessed charge is based either on number of bedrooms or number of people.
  • deanos
    deanos Posts: 11,219
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    AW do .
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    deanos wrote: »
    AW do .

    That is for their 'social tariff' i.e. in receipt of benefits.
    What is the LITE tariff and how can it help me?

    LITE (Low Income Tariff for Eligible Households) has been designed to support people with low disposable income who may be struggling to afford their water bill.

    We can help by applying a discount to your bill of up to 80%.

    Eligibility for this tariff is based upon an individual assessment of your financial circumstances. A discount will be awarded where your bill represents a large
    proportion of your disposable income.

    Like similar schemes for gas electricity, where people can get a reduced tariff if on a low income etc, they are paid for by a levy on the charges for other customers.
  • deanos
    deanos Posts: 11,219
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    edited 16 June 2016 at 3:06PM
    Cardew wrote: »
    That is for their 'social tariff' i.e. in receipt of benefits.

    no it isn't , if you cant have a meter aw will base it on a set of questions on water useage
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    deanos wrote: »
    no it isn't , if you cant have a meter aw will base it on a set of questions on water useage

    This is what it states on AW's website.
    PART H: UNMEASURED CHARGING
    1. Basis of Charge
    (1) For each unmeasured Water Supply and/or Sewerage Services, charges are made up of two parts:
    (i) a fixed charge for each service provided per Premises; and (ii) a variable charge per £ of the rateable value of the Premises.
    (2) However where a Meter is requested and it is impracticable to fit a Meter or to fit a Meter would involve unreasonable expense, we may assess the Charges payable by the Customer in respect of the Premises using the Measured Customer Tariffs.
    (3) The Assessed Measured Charges will be based on the appropriate Measured Tariff (i.e. Standard Measured for Household Premises or Streamline Green for Non-Household Premises) which would have applied if a Meter had been fitted, taking account of the likely occupancy and nature of the Premises.
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