South West Water bill reductions discussed

Image caption,
SWW customers can pay up to £150 more than water users elsewhere in the UK

Proposals to reduce water bills in Devon and Cornwall are being discussed.

South West Water (SWW) customers currently pay among the highest charges in the UK, with bills up to £150 more than the national average of £340.

Ministers and local MPs are meeting regulator Ofwat to consider options which could cut bills by £50.

These include a direct grant, a subsidy from customers in other regions or a water saving advice scheme.

Since privatisation in 1989, SWW has spent £2bn on Operation Clean Sweep to improve beach water quality around the region's coastline.

It claims the programme has been successful, with 97% of beaches now passing water standards, but the cost to customers has been high.

It is estimated that three out of 10 people in the South West are in 'water poverty', with bills costing more than 3% of their income.

Last year a government-backed review into water charging across the UK was carried out. The report found the South West was a special case, with customers penalised by the cost of infrastructure improvements following privatisation.

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