BILL increases from the utilities are always unpopular.

And the latest one from Wessex Water – a 4.9 per cent rise – is not going to change that. Dorset householders are facing the country's second highest water bills from April.

Wessex Water will charge an average water and sewerage bill of £478 for 2013-14, topped only by neighbouring South West Water.

Water companies say bills rise to pay for improvements to the system and they need to invest in new technologies and processes. They say they also need to look to the future and develop sustainable solutions.

However Dr Richard Wellings, at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has said: “In some areas, poorer people are now spending more than ten per cent of their income on water, leaving less money for other essentials such as food and heating.”

It’s a worrying sign when people have to make a choice between these essentials.