CMA plans could tip the balance for struggling households

The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) has today called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to “think again” after voicing concerns over its provisional plans for four water companies’ future bills and service commitments.

CCW has published its formal response (pdf) to the CMA’s proposals for Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Bristol Water and Yorkshire Water. It comes after all four companies appealed against the regulator Ofwat’s final price determinations for 2020 to 2025 in December 2019.

Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said:

It appears the voice of the customer has been drowned out by the noise these four water companies have been making. Customers don’t have the same right to appeal that companies enjoy if they’re unhappy with the regulator’s decisions so we’ll be urging the CMA to listen and think again.”

The CMA’s plan to increase the rewards for shareholders in return for very little additional investment risks fuelling the perception among many customers that they don’t get a fair deal from their water company. We’ve seen in the past how over generosity towards water companies has been very damaging to consumers’ views of the sector. It could prove to be a tipping point for some households if they end paying more at a time when many customers are already reeling from the impact of Covid-19.”

Increasing the return for shareholders would also set a dangerous precedent for future price reviews and could embolden more water companies to chance their arm with their business plans knowing that an appeal could open the door to more generous returns.

Read our full response to the CMA consultation (pdf).

For more information call the CCW media team on 0121 345 1005.

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