Reed vows to ‘clean up’ water industry as Ofwat backs 21% price hikes

Daniel Green

Environment Secretary Steve Reed has committed to “clean up” the water industry to cut sewage pollution as regulator Ofwat announced prices are set to rise by an average of £94 over the next five years.

The increase, which will see average bills rise by around £19 a year, is a third less than requested by water firms and will go towards funding improvements including reducing sewage discharges.

Reed is set to meet with water company chief executives later this afternoon to outline plans to work in partnership with the sector to attract investment, jobs and clean up the nation’s polluted waterways.

He has also written to Ofwat to ask them to make sure funding for vital infrastructure is ringfenced and can only be spent on upgrades benefitting customers and the environment.

Reed also announced that customers will gain new powers to hold water company bosses to account with new customer panels. The panels will allow water users to summon board members and hold water executives to account.

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Subject to consultation, the amount of compensation customers are legally entitled to when key standards are not met will more than double, Reed said.

Reed said: “We will never look the other way while water companies pump sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas.

“This unacceptable destruction of our waterways should never have been allowed, but change has now begun so it can never happen again.

“Today I have announced significant steps to clean up the water industry to cut sewage pollution, protect customers and attract investment to upgrade its crumbling infrastructure.

“That change will take time. Over the coming weeks and months, this Government will outline further steps to reform the water sector and restore our rivers, lakes and seas to good health.”

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