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Inflation busting rise in cost of water

[Wednesday 22 February 2006]

Households across Yorkshire will see inflation busting water bills landing on their doormats from April this year - and they are being urged to contact Yorkshire Water if they face any problems in paying.

Despite the rate of inflation holding steady at 1.9% throughout January, Ofwat, the industry regulator, is allowing Yorkshire Water to raise its bills by 6.7% - leaving the average water user to pay £18 extra.

The price increase is being allowed by Ofwat to enable the company to maintain its operations and services to customers, deliver water and environmental quality improvements and address sewer flooding.

The organisation representing customers of Yorkshire Water - CCWater Yorkshire - is advising householders to contact the company if they are likely to experience problems paying the increase in their water bill.

"Customers facing financial difficulty should contact their water company at an early stage to discuss the various payment options available to help budget for their bills and to prevent any debt accumulating", said Andrea Cook, the regional Chairperson of the Consumer Council for Water.

Ms Cook added: "We will continue to work with Yorkshire Water to ensure that customer priorities are met and that they receive value for money.

"The investment which has been agreed should enable the company to maintain and improve the high standards of customer service for which it has been commended".

Following on from the latest round of large rises in the cost of energy and the ever increasing Council Tax - North Yorkshire County Council being the latest, raising its precept by 4.9% - it is feared that some households will face a mounting struggle to pay the bills.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chairperson of national CCWater, said: "Although water costs only 72p a day on average, some consumers will struggle to pay their water bills - surrounded as they are by other rises for energy, Council Tax and other services.

However, there are a limited number of options that you can use to sugar the pill. If you have difficulty in paying your water bill, contact your water company and they may be able to help you spread your payments or make arrangements to suit your requirements".

The organisation is now working alongside other representative bodies such as Age Concern, the National Children's Charity, Citizens' Advice, Help the Aged, Public Utilities Access Forum and Unison to campaign for effective financial support to be provided by Government to consumers on low and fixed incomes.

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