Public want change to water sector but fear price rises

Published:  22 July, 2014

Rising water prices and bills are householders' biggest fears for the future of the water industry, according to a report from Talis UK.

Researchers asked 1,000 households across the UK about their perceptions towards the water industry, ahead of the proposed major changes taking place within the sector.

The Talking Water report showed that 44% want the water sector to operate more like other utilities, with greater choice and transparency over billing. Twenty nine per cent did not support the idea. 

However, there is an assumption that the changes to the sector will bring higher bills and confusing tariffs. Seventy one per cent fear that companies will use it as an excuse to raise prices just like their gas and electricity suppliers, while others think it will result in confusing tariffs (65%) or a poorer service (60%).

Despite the fear of rising bills, those surveyed felt that the current cost of water represents good value for money. The average household in the UK currently pays around £1 a day for their water supply but the study found that the general public are comfortable paying slightly more than this, and would be willing to pay on average £1.28 a day.

Mark Hodgens, managing director of Talis UK, said: “The findings reveal an interesting set of challenges facing the UK’s water sector when it is entering into a period of enormous change. The study highlights that the public are not being made aware of the industry’s wider issues, except when perhaps flooding hits the headline. For this reason, price and billing represents their biggest fears for the future, rather than other major challenges facing our country. 

“For the public to play an active and informed role in the decisions to come, more needs to be done to build awareness of the choices and implications.”

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