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Council Leader urges water regulator to reject Thames Water price hike

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Cllr Julian Bell, Labour Leader of Ealing Council has written to OFWAT, the water regulator, to urge them to reject Thames Water’s application to increase prices even further above inflation for 2014/15.

Thames Water has applied to increase bills by an additional 8% for 2014/15, on top of the 3% above inflation they have already increased household bills by between 2010 and 2015.

Last year Thames Water posted a record profit of £549 million.

Cllr Bell said:

“Londoners are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and paying the bills is more of a struggle every month. Real wages in Ealing have fallen for 36 consecutive months. Water is one of the biggest outgoing faced by every household in Ealing and residents simply can’t afford yet another above inflation hike to bills. Residents will feel ripped-off being asked to pay more while Thames Water is making record breaking profits. OFWAT should reject this application.”

Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow London Minister said:

“On a bill as unavoidable as water, hiking bills above inflation in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis while posting record breaking profits is frankly outrageous.”

Text of letter to OFWAT:

Regina Finn

Chief Executive

OFWAT

Dear Regina,

I am writing to you in regards to Thames Water’s application to OFWAT for permission to increase their prices once again, in addition to the 3% above inflation they have already increased their prices by between 2010 and 2015.

I find Thames Water’s application staggering, particularly as they offer no social tariffs to those struggling to pay their bills. The increase will add an additional 8% to household water bills, which my residents in Ealing can already barely afford.

I would be grateful if you could confirm that OFWAT will be taking the considerations below into account when making your decision:
1) Thames Water’s profits. Thames Water posted a record £549 million in profit last year. I find it beyond belief that Thames Water are asking hard working Londoners to pay even more for their water bills at the same time as posting the biggest profits in the company’s history.

2) The cost-of-living crisis in Ealing.  As I’m sure you are aware, real wages have fallen for 36 consecutive months and the average Londoner is £42 a week worse off as a result. Wages grew at the smallest rate since records began in the last quarter and there is no sign that real wages are likely to improve during the period in question.

OFWAT has an important role as the industry regulator and custodian for London's consumers. It is important that rigour is applied whenever a request is made by a water company but even more so in light of the circumstances above.

I would strongly urge you to reject Thames Water’s application. On a bill as unavoidable as water, Thames Water’s attempt to hike bills even further above inflation in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis while posting record profits is frankly outrageous.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Julian Bell,
Leader of Ealing Council

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