Water companies come under watchdog’s microscope

The quality of drinking water and customer complaints in central and eastern England will come under close examination at the Consumer Council for Water’s (CCWater) meeting in public in Birmingham this Thursday (9 November).

At the meeting, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) will present its annual report and representatives from the region’s water companies will discuss what action they have taken to safeguard the quality of their tap water.

The meeting will also cover recent publications from CCWater on affordability and vulnerability assistance, entitled ‘Staying afloat: Addressing customer vulnerability in the water sector 2016-17’ and complaints to water companies in 2016-17. Companies will be invited to discuss their performance and progress in these areas.

Both reports have revealed there remains important work to be done by water companies in addressing the issues of customer vulnerability and customer complaints. Latest figures show the number of customers receiving financial help from their water company has more than doubled in the past year to more than 400,000. However, with 3 million customers telling CCWater their water bill is not affordable, it is clear there is more to be done.

Overall the number of written complaints received by water companies in England and Wales has fallen in the last 12 months, but the number of calls made by customers to resolve issues has risen by more than 40,000 to 2.14 million.

Professor Bernard Crump, Chair of CCWater’s Central and Eastern Region, said: “The issues of customer vulnerability and customer complaints both remain vital matters for the water industry. This meeting will provide an important opportunity for water suppliers to demonstrate the steps they are taking individually as well as an opportunity to share ideas and work more collaboratively.”

The meeting will take place at 12.45pm at CCWater’s offices in Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4AJ. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting or submit questions by contacting Gemma Domican at Gemma.domican@ccwater.org.uk