Multi-million pound investment plan proposed and bills frozen at inflation only to 2020

02.12.2013

Customers of Northumbrian Water will benefit from about 900 million pounds of investment between 2015 and 2020 if plans submitted today are approved.

The company, which supplies drinking water and waste water treatment to 2.7 million customers in the North East, is committed to keep improving its services, and for bills that will change by inflation only (RPI).

Its business plan has been submitted to the water regulator Ofwat after more than two years of comprehensive planning, research and consultation with customers and with scrutiny and challenge from an independent Water Forum.

The plan – firmly based on customer priorities - includes further improvements to the water environment and, in particular, contains substantial proposals to help protect homes from the risk of flooding from sewers.

The water company’s planned investment will also be a welcome boost to the regional economy and employment. Its extensive investment programme supports thousands of local jobs and a significant number of regionally-based contractor companies which are engaged to help deliver improvements.

Under the plan the average household water and sewerage bill will be adjusted by no more than inflation between 2015-16 to 2019-20.

Heidi Mottram, Northumbrian Water’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “While we appreciate that any increases in the household budget are unwelcome we believe that our plan, which avoids any change in bills apart from an adjustment in line with inflation, will deliver the improved services that our customers are quite rightly looking for.

“Customers have told us clearly that they do not wish to see service reduced in any respect - even in return for lower bills - and we will not let service deteriorate in any area. Given the economic situation, we have worked very hard to minimise the costs of delivering our plan and keep bills as low as possible.

“Northumbrian Water is one of the best performing companies in the industry - with bills that are already amongst the lowest in the country - and our sustainable five-year business plan will ensure that our bills will continue to be amongst the lowest in the country until 2020.

“We will ensure that all customers will be made aware of the best available tariff for them. In addition, for customers who have difficulty paying, we will offer a comprehensive package of affordability measures and we are committed to introducing a social tariff that is acceptable to our customers.

“We have listened to our customers and produced a plan which balances the needs of our current customers, our future customers and is sustainable in the long term in protecting the environment.”

Chair of the Independent Water Forum, Andrea Cook, said: “We have had the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the price review process and to challenge the company robustly. It is our assessment that Northumbrian Water has gone to considerable lengths to ensure customers’ priorities are reflected in its business plan.”

The plan includes:
• significant improvements to the sewer network to reduce sewer flooding and pollution incidents.
• minimising interruption to supply.
• Investment in water treatment works and the drinking water network.
• Investment to maintain and cleanse the sewer network.
• more improvements to rivers and bathing waters.
• reducing the levels of lead and pesticides in water.
• further reducing the risk of discoloured water.
• maintaining high levels of compliance with environmental discharge standards.
• further improvements to current high levels of customer satisfaction.
• a comprehensive and enhanced package of affordability measures.

Details of the business plan can be found on the website: www.nwplanningforthefuture.co.uk

The average Northumbrian Water bill for drinking water and waste water services for the current period (2013/14) is £359.

The submission of the business plan is an important stage in the price setting process for the five years beginning 2015.

Business plans are scheduled to be submitted to Ofwat by all of the water and waste water companies in the country by 2 December, 2013.

Ofwat’s final price determination is expected towards the end of 2014.

For further information contact Alistair Baker, Communications & PR Manager: 0191-301-6851 / 07711-793493.

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