Our customer's charges will help to fund a £329 million programme of investment over the next year to ensure we are best placed to cope with the fresh challenges presented by climate change and a growing population in the region.
From April 1st, the average water bill in the region is set to increase by an additional £12 per year - or £1 per month - with the average bill rising to £368 - ensuring they remain below the national average and well below the average gas and electricity bills in the region which currently stand at around £830 and £630 respectively.
The move comes as we enter the fourth year of our biggest ever investment programme, as we spend £3.5 billion between 2010 and 2015 to deliver significant improvements to our water and waste water services, as well as the wider water environment, including the region's bathing waters and rivers.
Crucially, this investment is helping us face the serious challenges posed to its network by a growing population and climate change. Yorkshire's population is expected to have grown by 1 million in 2030, whilst climate projections reinforce the picture of change and uncertainty with both droughts and floods occurring in 2012, and scientists predicting that such events will become increasingly common in the future, with longer, hotter dry spells and more extreme weather events.
Amongst some of the improvements which will benefit customers are:
- £120 million to help reduce the risk of sewer flooding through improvements to the company's 54,000km sewer network and waste water treatment facilities to help reduce the risk of sewer flooding
- £110 million to help improve bathing water quality along Yorkshire's coast, boosting tourism and benefitting local businesses like hotels and restaurants
- £78 million to improve our Blackburn Meadows waste water treatment works in Sheffield to improve water quality in the River Don, boosting fish stocks and putting the river back at the heart of local communities.
- £30 million to create the UK's first large energy neutral waste water treatment works at Esholt, near Bradford. This will help to keep running costs low which in turn helps keep bills as low as possible
For example, we employ more than 2,800 people, with approximately £60 million of their disposable income being reinvested back into the region every year. We aso recruited more than 100 employees last year whilst remaining committed to local businesses with products and services sourced from more than 1,000 local suppliers which in turn creates further employment and benefits for the region.
Our chief executive Richard Flint said: "We know that things are really tough out there, with a lot of people really feeling the pinch, which is why it's so important that essential service providers like ourselves explain exactly why price increases are necessary and just what they will finance.
"A significant part of this rise is down to inflation, and the fact that the price of many of the products and services we use as a company has risen. The remainder of the increase will be used to fund our ongoing investment in the region - £376 million over the next 12 months.
"This investment is all the more important as we face into the challenge of ensuring our clean and waste water networks are prepared for the extra pressures they'll come under in future years as a result of climate change and population growth, whilst doing everything we can to keep bills as low as possible during these times of austerity.
"Not only will this investment deliver huge benefits, from reducing the number of homes and businesses affected by flooding from sewers during times of exceptional rainfall, through to protecting drinking water supplies and improving the quality of the region's rivers and bathing waters, but it will also serve to underpin the region's economy and boosting employment at a critical time.
For those who are genuinely struggling to pay their bills, help is available.
We run a number of initiatives aimed at supporting customers, including the Yorkshire Water Community Trust - a registered charity which provides financial assistance to customers who are in debt. For more information, call 0845 1 24 24 24 or visit yorkshirewater.com/billhelp