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Water customers will see ‘modest increase in bills’ to pay for £10bn investment, says industry chief | UK News

A £10bn investment from water companies to stop sewage spills will be paid for by customers through “modest increases to their bills”.

Ruth Kelly, chair of Water UK, told Sky News that water firms will provide a “huge multi-billion down-payment” to start “the biggest transformation project since Victorian times”.

She added: “The way the system works is that over the lifetime of the assets, customers do pay that money back in modest increases in their bills.”

Ms Kelly said that over the last ten years water bills have fallen for most people and “research shows us that customers are prepared to pay a little bit more to see this sort of investment undertaken”.

It comes amid outrage over the large bonuses and dividends paid to water company bosses despite huge levels of untreated sewage being pumped into the UK’s rivers.

Earlier, industry body Water UK pledged to invest £10 billion to clean up their act and said campaigners were “right to be upset” as it issued an apology.

Asked why customers are having to put their hands in their pockets when water companies paid £1.4 billion in dividends last year, Ms Kelly said “dividends have been at very low levels compared to other sectors”.

She added: “As a sign of the seriousness with which the companies are taking this issue, all water company CEOs have come together and they said they’re not going to pay a single penny in bonuses out of customer funds this year.”

There were 301,091 sewage spills in 2022 in England, an average of 824 a day, according to Environment Agency figures.

A string of recent high-profile incidents, including a sewage discharge at a picturesque beach in Cornwall, have fuelled disgust over the issue.

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