The April 2023 water bill rise explained

What can you expect to pay and where is your money going

With the cost-of-living crisis already putting a strain on our wallets, households will face another challenge in April – a water bill rise. It’s another knock to households already struggling with rising energy and food prices.

Households across England and Wales can expect their water and sewerage bills to increase by 7.5%. Despite the high increase, Water UK, representing the UK water industry, says the figure is below inflation and that water companies have absorbed some of the costs.

Credit: Shutterstock/fizkes

As a benchmark to set prices, water regulator, Ofwat, uses the inflation figure for November’s consumer price index with housing (CPIH). In November 2022 this figure stood at 9.3%.

What can you expect to pay?

The national average increase

While pricing varies between water companies, on average customers paying for water and sewerage services in England and Wales can now expect to pay £448 per year according to Water UK, an increase of £31. That puts average daily payments at £1.23 – up 8p per day on last year’s charges.

However, across the water regions, some customers will pay an increase of almost £50 per year. Customers in the Anglian Water region will bear the brunt, with a rise of £47, an increase of 13p per day. South West Water customers will receive the smallest increase at £8 per year, equating to an additional 2p per day.


What if I have a water meter?

You’ll still see rises

If you have a water meter, you may wonder how your prices will be affected. According to the Consumer Council for Water, metered and unmetered customers will see similar increases, and these rises will be reflected in both standing and volumetric charges.

Water UK points out that the 7.5% increase is lower than the rate of inflation. “With an average increase of around 60p a week, most customers will again see a below-inflation increase in their water bill. However, we know that any increase is unwelcome, particularly at the moment,” says Stuart Colville, Water UK’s director of policy.

Why are bills going up?

Know why you’re paying more

April’s increase sees the biggest rise in water bills for nearly 20 years, according to the Consumer Council for Water. Higher energy prices are a factor, as water companies use around 2% of the nation’s electricity, according to Water UK.

Water companies also pay out dividends to their shareholders, but have been chastised by ministers and MPs for paying out while chronically underinvesting in infrastructure. In March this year Ofwat said it would stop dividend payments where firms continued to underinvest.

Where is the money going?

Reservoirs, repairs and an end to river overflow

Water companies say that they are already working to invest in infrastructure. “Next year’s bills will support what is already the highest level of investment on record, with a further £70 billion set to be spent over coming years on building new reservoirs and ending overflows into rivers,” explains Colville.

The investment can be broken down into two areas: £56 billion is being allocated to storm overflows to help clean up rivers, and £14 billion will be assigned to water resource measures, including building new reservoirs.

Aerial Panorama of Ladybower Reservoir, in the Peak District National ParkCredit: Jon Clark/Shutterstock
Money is needed to fund new reservoirs across the UK.

Average water bills by water supplier for 2023

The price changes in your region

The price you pay for your water bill will depend on which company covers your region. We’ve gathered the average prices for each firm in this handy guide, so you’ll know what you can expect to pay for your water bill during 2023.

National average bill (England and Wales) £417 £448 +£31 (+7.5%)
Anglian £445 £492 +£47 (+10.7%)
Dwr Cymru Welsh Water £485 £499 +£14 (+2.8%)
Hafren Dyfrdwy £331 £372 +£41 (+12.3%)
Northumbrian £362 £391 +£29 (+7.8%)
Severn Trent £391 £419 +£28 (+7.2%)
South West £468 £476 +£8 (+1.9%)
Southern £396 £439 +£43 (+10.8%)
Thames £417 £456 +£39 (+9.4%)
United Utilities £417 £443 +£26 (+6.4%)
Wessex £462 £504 +£42 (9.1%)
Yorkshire £416 £446 +£30 (+7.2%)


Data provided by Water UK


How average costs are calculated

The figures outlined in the table above are based on forecast data provided by the water companies. The average household bill is taken as the average across all customers. Your bill may be higher or lower than the average depending, for example, on whether you have a water meter and how much you use.

Changes to customers’ bills will also vary according to which company supplies them. Plus there may be differences in how some customers receive their water and sewerage services, with some supplied by separate companies. The data takes account of these differences and the average water bill has been added to the average sewerage bill to calculate the average combined bill.

Why do I pay more where I live?

Costs vary by region

Each water company faces different investment and expenditure needs and cost levels, which drive the differences in bills across the regions. These vary depending on the area’s geography, the balance between rural and urban supply needs and the availability of water resources, plus the need to invest in environmental improvements.

If you’re interested in finding out how your water company works out its charges, full details will be available on its website.

Each company must submit its plans for running its services and future investment to Ofwat. The water regulator, in turn, reviews and challenges each company’s plans in its price control process.

Why do South West Water customers get £50 off?

It’s because of government support for previous investment

Customers served by South West Water have benefitted from a government contribution since April 2013, reducing each customer’s bill by £50. Without this support, an average customer’s bill would be £527 a year.

Why do South West Water customers get this extra support? Essentially, it’s help to cover past costs of building sewage treatment works, which were previously being passed on as high bills for customers.

The reason for the subsidy was outlined in a government press release in 2012: ‘Since privatisation, South West Water has invested around £2 billion to raise standards and with only a relatively small customer base, households in that area have seen bills way above the national average… That is why the government has set aside £40 million a year to help them in future.”

What support is available to help meet rising costs?

There are a few options out there

According to the Consumer Council for Water, with one in five water customers struggling to pay their water bills, April’s increase will be a blow to many households. However, support is being increased to help low-income households.

While 1 million households currently receive help with their water bills, this will increase to 1.2 million over the coming months, according to Water UK. It says that water companies are lending a hand too, with an additional £200 million in funding to help those who are struggling.

Andy White, senior leader for social policy at the Consumer Council for Water, adds: “Water is essential for all of us so no one should be worried about being able to afford their bill, but these increases will add to the uncertainty already facing many households. Anyone struggling to pay should contact their water company as they all offer a range of schemes to help, including options to reduce bills for those on a low income.”

There is lots of help available if you are struggling to pay your water bill.

Schemes that can help you pay your water bill

To apply for support with your water bills via the Watersure scheme you’ll need to be on benefits; use a lot of water for medical reasons; or have more than a certain number of school-age children in your household. You’ll also need to have a water meter installed. If Welsh Water supplies your water, you can gain support by contacting WaterSure Wales. For those in England, you’ll need to contact your water supplier.


This free service is available to customers who need practical support with reading their meter or sending out bills in other formats. You can check if you’re eligible here, but you must contact your water supplier to sign up.

The go-to platform if you are worried about your water bill, Support on Tap provides information and advice on contacting your water company, WaterSure and the Priority Services Register, as well as tips and tools available from the Consumer Council for Water.

Will my bill reduce with a water meter?

It depends on the size of your household

If you are concerned about paying your water bill, Colville advises that your first port of call should be your water company. Alternatively, you can go online and check the support available through Support on Tap, as mentioned above. He also has a reassuring words: “It’s worth remembering that water companies will never cut anyone off or make them use a prepayment meter.”

In some circumstances, you can save money with a water meter. It all depends on the amount you consume. A small household is more likely to make a saving than one with a higher occupancy. The Consumer Council for Water has an online calculator to help you decide.

Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her


With her 30 years of experience, Camilla Sharman has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader.