Darllenwch hyn yn Gymraeg – Read this in Welsh

Our draft strategy sets out the priorities and four main campaigns that will shape our work over the next three years and help us to achieve our ultimate goal – Securing a fair deal for water consumers, now and in the future.

Our five objectives to help us achieve this mission are:

  • Affordable water for everyone.
  • Climate resilient water & sewerage services for present & future consumers.
  • Services shaped by the views of customers.
  • Services that meet everyone’s needs.
  • Effective and easy to follow complaint processes.

Watch this introduction to our plans from our Chief Executive, Emma Clancy.

Our strategic campaigns:

Our campaigns have been shaped by a continuous review of our policy priorities in response to the changing needs of both household and business consumers, and we’ll be working hard over the coming months to bring these to life in a way that resonates with consumers. Our work on consumer complaints provides immediate support for water consumers when they need it most and – coupled with our research – provides us with valuable insight into the issues that need to be resolved.

To deliver our mission, our work will prioritise four key strategic campaigns:

End water poverty

Why is it important?

Even before the economic impact of Covid-19, 1 in 10 households in England and Wales told us that they struggle to afford their water bill.

Water companies do offer some help through social tariffs, but there are two key problems with these tariffs:

    1. A patchwork of support: while customers qualify for the tariff in some parts of England or Wales, they wouldn’t qualify in others. This level of support offered also varies by region.
    2. Lack of funding: There isn’t enough money to help everyone who need it. Under-25s, over-75s, Black-Caribbean and minority ethnic groups are most at risk of missing out on financial support with bills.

We want to drive change to create a fairer system that can properly help everyone who struggles to pay their bills.

To deliver our campaign, we will:

    • Work with Governments to introduce changes recommended by the CCW Water Affordability Review to improve support schemes for customers. We will do this by engaging with MPs and MSs to add their support to our campaign.
    • Get other consumer champions to join us in our call for change.
    • Speak out in the media to call for change.

As a result, we want to see:

    • The number of customers saying they can afford their bill increases to 100% by 2030.
    • New social tariff guidance from the governments in England and Wales ends the patchwork of financial support, by 2025.

CCW: a voice for your complaint

Why is it important?

Some water consumers are missing out on our free service, which can help them solve their complaint against their water or sewerage provider.

If consumers don’t pursue their complaint, they could be missing out on a refund, compensation or help getting the water supply or sewerage service problem fixed. That doesn’t seem fair.

Making sure consumers know who their water consumer champion is, is a big step towards consumers getting our help and support when they need it.

To deliver our campaign, we will:

    • Drive impactful policy campaigns to ensure the CCW brand is visible to water consumers.
    • Address systemic issues by sharing best practice to ensure improved outcomes for consumers.
    • Continually improve our own performance in complaint handling and our role in the overall process.
    • Use the media to give a clear voice to water consumer issues and raise awareness of our role.
    • Increase our social media presence to increase the visibility of our service, including using case studies.
    • Increase our visibility to consumers by making sure CCW’s brand and service is clear to consumers on water company websites.
    • Increase our ‘on the ground’ visibility after major water supply incidents, by using mailshots to reach out to those consumers who aren’t online.

As a result, we want to see:

    • Consumer research shows awareness of CCW has increased by 2025.
    • Consumer satisfaction with CCW’s service increases to 80% by 2025.
    • Household and business complaints to CCW decrease by 15% by 2025, as best practice is embedded into companies with our support.

End sewer flooding misery

Why is it important?

Most would agree that being flooded by sewage – either inside or outside our home – is one of the worst ways our wastewater company can fail us. It shouldn’t happen, yet during 2019-20 more houses and businesses got flooded with sewage. The rate increased by around 14% compared to the year before.

What’s worse is that if it does happen, the compensation pay-out by wastewater companies doesn’t feel sufficient to cover costs. Added to this, the clean up or help towards an increase in insurance premiums can be slow. If that wasn’t bad enough, some households are flooded more than once. We think this all needs to change.

That is why we want improved service standards for victims of Sewer Flooding, and additional support and compensation for those who are suffering repeated sewer floods.

But it isn’t just about fixing things well if they go wrong, we also want to see the wastewater companies stopping flooding before it happens by better planning and anticipation of where the problems will happen.

To deliver our campaign, we will:

    • Act to get the exceptional weather caveat removed, which means the wastewater company doesn’t need to pay out.
    • Get companies to commit to cleaning up after sewage flooding in all circumstances where their asset is responsible.
    • Get companies to commit to a standard clean-up response time of 2 hour for inside 4 hours for outside sewer flooding.
    • Compensation to be aligned to the real world, for example covering the customer’s insurance excess as a minimum.
    • Act for those being repeatedly flooded to get the problem investigated and sorted, with compensation increased incrementally until the issue is resolved.

As a result, we want to see:

    • More support and compensation for those who suffer repeat sewer flooding by 2022.
    • We want standard clean-up times by 2022 and a review of the compensation offered.
    • We want the exceptional weather ‘get out’ removed from companies’ policies by 2022.

“Be in the know” about available help

Why is it important?

We all need a bit of extra help now and then. For some of us, this is a short-term need, when we have just come out of hospital or had a new baby. Some of us – those who are disabled or with long-term health problems – need a bit of extra help all the time.
 
That’s why water companies have priority services registers. Once water companies know which of their consumers need extra help (even if it is only for a short time), they can target that help if the water goes off, if information is needed in braille or if you don’t like answering the door to strangers.

Only 42% of consumers are aware of this help, and we don’t think this is enough. We want water companies to make sure all of their customers are aware of their priority services register, and get more people signed up. We will play our part too.

To deliver our campaign, we will:

    • Ask Governments in England and Wales to improve information-sharing across departments and make sure water companies can access official data about who needs help.
    • Use our influence with water companies to sharpen their focus on raising consumer awareness of the help available, and monitor the numbers of customers signed up for extra help.
    • Target our communications to sections of society who would benefit from knowing about the registers, including getting the message to consumers when their water supply goes off unexpectedly. We will make sure our information is accessible to all, including making it available in several languages.
    • Increase our ‘on the ground’ visibility after major water supply incidents, by using mailshots to reach out to those consumers who may need extra help.

As a result, we want to see:

    • Consumer awareness of the priority services register increases to 60% by 2025 and 75% by the end of 2030.
    • The number of consumers signed up to companies’ priority services registers increases to 4.5% by 2023 – a milestone towards their overall performance commitment requirement of 7% by 2025.

You can find out more about these campaigns and our in the full draft strategy:

 

What we’ve achieved so far

We cost each bill payer in England and Wales around 22p to deliver a huge range of benefits for consumers during 2019-20, which included:

Water meter showing usage

More than £15 million the potential bill savings thousands of households were able to identify through using our water meter calculator.

Piggy bank with calculator

Just over £4 million in potential welfare payments that thousands of cash-strapped households may be able to claim after using our Benefits Calculator.

a young woman sits at home at night , going through her domestic bills  and comparing them with comparison websites using her digital tablet .

Almost 750,000 low-income households now receiving reduced bills through water companies’ social tariff schemes, which we helped the industry develop and promote.

Studio portrait of a young woman looking through a magnifying glass against a brown background

142 investigations we carried out where we felt a water company or retailer’s handling of a complaint had been poor and not delivered a fair outcome for the consumer.

New Twenty pound notes released 20 Feb 2020. Macro close up of this new polymer note with pound coins on top of it

Nearly £1.5 million in financial redress that we helped to secure for consumers after resolving their complaint against a water company or water retailer.

Customer service feedback

4 major research reports we commissioned to broaden our understanding of consumers’ views and campaign for changes from the water industry, regulators and governments.

Close up head shot smiling friendly Indian woman wearing headset

More than 2,000 people supported with enquiries about their water and sewerage services.

Businessman wearing headset using computer

More than 10,000 complaints about water companies and water retailers that our consumer relations team stepped in to help consumers resolve.

How to respond

We would love to hear your views on our draft strategy for 2021-24.  You can respond to this consultation by contacting Jenny Suggate, Senior Policy Manager, at Jennifer.suggate@ccwater.org.uk by 8 February 2021 with your views.

Our data protection notice sets out how we will use your personal data for the purposes of this consultation and explains your rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA)