ANGLIAN Water has pledged to cut customers’ bills and invest £2.1bn in improving services in the next five years.

ANGLIAN Water has pledged to cut customers' bills and invest £2.1bn in improving services in the next five years.

Speaking to The Hunts Post, Anglian Water's head of group communications Andrew Mackintosh said the company also wants to improve water efficiency and increase the number of metered customers by 2015.

Half of the £2.1bn funding will be spent on maintenance work.

Mr Mackintosh said: "We have a network of pipes and sewers that could stretch around the planet twice so maintenance is key to us. One of the biggest problems we face is what people put down their domestic drains. People tip fat, oil and grease down their sinks, which costs us £5million a year to put right. By disposing of non-natural waste properly, it would be better for all of us. It would cause fewer blockages and fewer floods."

Another item commonly flushed away that causes big problems for Anglian Water is cotton buds. The small, seemingly harmless buds can block machinery, causing them to break down.

Anglian Water recently appointed a new managing director, Peter Simpson, formerly the company's chief operating officer, and has identified its top priority for the coming years as water efficiency.

Mr Mackintosh explained: "We would like every customer to be on a water meter. Currently 64 per cent are metered and by 2015 we want to increase that to 80 per cent. Water remains a massive issue in this country. There are an awful lot of people living on a small island and, per head of the population, we have less water than Jerusalem. On top of this, here in the east of England, we live in the driest part of the country, which can cause problems."

He continued: "We work hard at having the lowest leak rates in the country and the highest level of water metering. We are doing our bit to improve water efficiency by keeping leak rates low and we would like our customers to do their bit by switching to a water meter. Switching to a meter is not about going without water, it is about not wasting water. Every one of our metered customers saves about £100 a year."

He explained that Anglian Water has a number of tariffs to help families on low incomes or people living, including pensioners, living alone.

As part of its financial efficiency drive, Anglian Water's administration is currently being outsourced to workers in India. Although the move was unpopular, Mr Mackintosh said the move was necessary if the company wanted to reduce every household's bill by £28 as planned. He added that no redundancies had been made. Instead, people were retrained and moved to "front-office" roles. He stressed that customers would not speak to overseas staff if they called Anglian Water and that it was paper correspondence only that would be dealt with abroad.

Currently Anglian Water directly employs 4,000 people, but Mr Mackintosh said the company provides jobs for up to 11,000 in the region through the services it provides.