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Water bills fall in 2013/14 while investment in improving services rises

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Average household bills in the South West are set to tumble by more than seven per cent in 2013/14 while £460,000 per day will be spent on improving the region's vital water and sewerage infrastructure.

South West Water has today (Tuesday 5 February) confirmed its £168 million investment and charges package for 2013/14 -  part of a £700 million plus programme between 2010 and 2015 which supports 4,500  jobs in the wider, regional economy.

Investment highlights for 2013/14 include:

· Upgrades to water treatment works, reservoirs, and pipe networks supplying East Devon, Plymouth, West Cornwall, South East Cornwall, Okehampton and South Devon

· Expanding the multi-award winning  'Upstream Thinking' programme to restore wetlands across the region and safeguard future tap water quality

· Renewing sewers in Torquay, Penzance, St Just, Bodmin, Bude, Bideford, Northam, Appledore and Moretonhampstead

· Upgrading waste water treatment works serving Plymstock, Plymouth, East Devon, West Devon, Truro, Kingsbridge and Torpoint

· Offering more apprenticeship opportunities for South West youngsters    

Around 700,000 household customers of South West Water will soon see a new item titled 'Government Contribution' on their bills confirming a £50 annual reduction will be applied from this April.

This flat rate deduction, a pledge within the Coalition's original working agreement, will be paid every year to 2020 and means the average annual household bill for water and sewerage in South West Water's service area will fall by 7.3% to £499 at a time when water and energy bills elsewhere are still rising.

Around 13,000 customers switching to a meter are also forecast to reduce their bills by an average of between £300 and £400 this year. Exact charges paid by customers will vary according to the services they use, their tariff, the rateable value of their property or the amount of water they use.

South West Water Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: "It's vital we continue to invest because having up-to-date water and sewerage infrastructure is just as important as good rail and road links and high speed broadband. We know what we do underpins the quality of life we all enjoy in the South West and also helps local businesses grow.

"We know the cost in the past of modernising particularly our sewerage network has been high for customers which is why we are particularly pleased the £50 reduction will be implemented from this year onward.

"Thank you to the Government and Defra for making the reduction a reality and thanks to everyone including MPs of all parties, the Consumer Council for Water, pensioner groups and the regional media who together with thousands of individual customers helped build a successful case for the region alongside us over many years.

"Household customers will have the reduction automatically and clearly applied to their bills. They need take no action, just look out for the line 'Government Contribution' on your bill during 2013/14."  

Notes to editors

1) The 'Government Contribution' will be paid every year from April 2013 to at least 2020 as an automatic deduction on household bills. It recognises the unfairness of less than three per cent of the England and Wales population supporting the clean-up of a third of the nation's bathing waters since 1989.

For complete information and who qualifies please go to southwestwater.co.uk/50reduction

2) The amount each customer pays depends on their tariff, the services they have and the amount of water they use or rateable value of their property. For complete information on all charges in 2013/14 please go to southwestwater.co.uk/charges2013

3) For customers in the most need, South West Water has a range of industry-leading assistance measures including free metering, benefit entitlement and home energy checks, free water-saving products, flexible payment plans and two special tariffs - WaterSure for those on certain benefits with three children or more at home or with a medical need to use excess water and WaterCare - new for 2013/14 for those on qualifying benefits and a low household income.

4) Customers can have their say on their priorities for the future of water and sewerage services to 2040 by going to southwestwater.co.uk/waterfuture. By signing up for updates on the company's future plans, they will be entered into monthly draws for £50 in High Street shopping vouchers

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