Anglian Water bills coming down and staying down

grafham_water11:43 Tuesday 3rd February 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Yesterday we were asking why energy prices haven’t fallen in line with the falling cost of oil. Today gas and electricity firms have been hammered by Which magazine who say they’ve not passed on the sharp fall in wholesale energy prices, and they could have helped families save £145 over the past year. Well, there’s a chink of good news this morning regarding many of our water bills. Anglian Water have announced their charges will drop by 7%. The average annual bill will drop by £29. Emma Staples is from Anglian Water. Emma Morning. Why the drop now?
EMMA STAPLES: Well we’ve been planning this next five year period for what seems like a lot longer than two years. But about two years ago we spoke to around 50,000 customers to ask them what was really important to them, how they wanted us to spend their money. And we’ve based this plan, over the next five years, on that feedback. So it’s a balancing act between keeping bills as low as we can, and investing in the areas that are important to people, things like reducing leakage, protecting the environment, reducing the risk of flooding. So this has been a long time in the making, but today we’re able to say what the bill reduction will be including inflation. So people really know what things are going to look like in terms of what’s coming through the letterbox.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. You mentioned leakages, which are a particular problem in Peterborough, aren’t they?

EMMA STAPLES: We have actually started a scheme there to deal with that, which is part of this £60 million roll-out which we’ll be delivering over the next five years too. There’s significant investment started there last year to reduce the pressure of certain parts of the network, to reduce the risk of pressure spikes, which are ultimately what caused burst mains. And that so far has been working well, and we’re looking to roll that out across the East of England.
PAUL STAINTON: I suppose it’s slightly easier for water companies than perhaps oil, gas or electricity companies, because your raw material that you purchase effectively and you pass on to us doesn’t go up and down in price quite so dramatically, does it?
EMMA STAPLES: No that’s right. Ultimately we just need to collect it, but collecting it, treating it, transporting it, then taking it all away again obviously has huge costs associated, when you scale it up for six million customers that we have in the East of England. But of course we’re also a very flat region. We’re also a very dry region, the driest in the UK, and that has its challenges too. So there’s quite a lot of money being invested in Grafham Water specifically, around £22 million, where we’re looking at resilience of our network. One point five million people inside and outside of Cambridgeshire rely on that treatment works to make sure that if things do become dry again in future that we can still provide water to people.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And you mentioned that it’s about £29 I think off an annual bill that you’re dropping the price by. Is this a start of a number of price drops, or is this just a one-off?
EMMA STAPLES: Well we appreciate that household budgets are under pressure, and we’ve front-loaded all of our reduction now, so people get the benefit when they need it most. We don’t know what the next four years are going to bring in terms of inflation, but we won’t be putting bills up by any more than inflation. So people get the benefit now, and any increases going forward will be linked to inflation.
PAUL STAINTON: Emma thank you. Emma Staples from Anglian Water. A bit of good news about water prices this morning.