Southern Water Bills To Rise 'Below Inflation'

Southern Water's revealed a £3.2 billion plan which it says will mean bills for people in Hampshire will go up by less than inflation.

The firm has published its new plan for delivering better water and wastewater services to more than 4.5 million customers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Sussex and Kent. It says it's final Business Plan for 2015 to 2020 'sets out a range of ambitious improvements designed to meet customers' priorities, with average bills increasing by less than inflation'.

The plan follows an 18-month programme of research and engagement involving more than 27,000 customers and community representatives from across the South East. It details how Southern Water will provide the improved services customers have said they expect, while minimising the impact on their bills. It includes 26 promises about what will be achieved under the plan.

Matthew Wright, Southern Water's Chief Executive, said:

"We are confident this is the right plan for our customers. The promises we are making about the services we will deliver have been shaped by them through our most extensive engagement programme ever. I would like to thank all of our customers and stakeholders for the input and challenge they have provided. Detailed research carried out during the public consultation on our draft plan showed 90 per cent of customers support our proposals.

"As we developed our plan, we were fully aware of the tough economic conditions which are making life difficult for a number of our customers. We have worked hard to do all we can to balance the need to deliver the improved services customers want, cater for a growing population in our region, safeguard the environment and make sure everyone can afford their bills. We have set ourselves an ambitious target of making nearly £200 million in efficiency savings between 2015 and 2020 - that amounts to about £20 per year for every household we serve."

In a statement, Southern Water said:

'Under Southern Water's new plan, average bills will go up at below the rate of inflation. The plan will cost £3.2 billion to implement and will support an estimated 6,000 jobs. The improvements it will deliver include:

- 90 per cent of customers' queries resolved the first time they contact Southern Water
- A 25 per cent reduction in sewer flooding inside people's homes and businesses
- No 'serious pollution incidents' affecting local rivers and coastal waters caused by Southern Water's operations
- A 15 per cent increase in the number of beaches with the official 'excellent' rating for bathing water quality
- A further reduction in leakage of two million litres a day
- A reduction of 15 litres per person, per day in average water use.'

Anna Bradley, independent Chair of the Southern Water Customer Challenge Group, said:

"We welcome the way Southern Water has worked with us over the past two years, embracing our advice and responding to our challenge to ensure customers' and stakeholders' views have shaped this new plan."

Southern Water's plan has been submitted to Ofwat, the water industry regulator. Ofwat will look at the document in detail and assess the company's proposals, with its final findings due to be announced in December next year.

You can visit www.southernwater.co.uk/haveyoursay to read or download Southern Water's new Business Plan for 2015 to 2020.

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