Up to 7.9m households in the North West, South West and Midlands could see their water bills fall by as much as £70 before inflation by 2025, after Ofwat published draft decisions on plans put forward by United Utilities, South West Water and Severn Trent.

Ofwat’s draft decisions for 2020 to 2025 would also mean these three companies spending £1.2 billion on improving the environment to reduce pollution and clean 4,500km of rivers, and investing in infrastructure, such as £80 million to start improving the Haweswater aqueduct serving Manchester and the Pennines.

By 2025, the three companies would need to cut leakage by at least 15% and provide help for 300,000 customers struggling to pay.

By becoming more efficient and embracing innovation, Ofwat found these companies can continue to keep bills down while delivering the investment needed to make sure there is enough water for everyone.

Ofwat Senior Director, David Black said “We’ve been very clear that we expect water companies to deliver for customers and the environment and that companies can secure both of these outcomes. Severn Trent, South West Water and United Utilities all stepped up to the mark with their plans.”

Our draft decisions for these companies show that investment in service and infrastructure can go hand in hand with more affordable bills.”

The Consumer Council for Water, which represents all consumers in England and Wales, Chief Executive Tony Smith said “Customers should be the judge of whether these proposals are acceptable which is why we’ll be asking households to give us their verdict – if they don’t like what they see, we expect the regulator to make changes.”

“Our research suggests Ofwat could still go slightly further in reducing bills, without eating into the essential investment that every company in England and Wales has promised. Companies should also make clear what impact inflation and the regulatory rewards that customers pay for will have on their bills.”