Staying afloat: customer vulnerability in the water sector – 2016-2017

Following feedback from stakeholders, we have revised our approach to publishing the operational information that water companies share with us.

Rather than this being contained in one report, the information will now be broken down into the following categories and published as four separate, more focussed reports:

  • Customer Vulnerability;
  • Complaints;
  • Waste Water Resilience; and
  • Water Supply Resilience.

Today we have published the first of these reports: ‘Staying afloat: Addressing customer vulnerability in the water sector (2016-17)’.

The key points made in the report are that:

  • There has been significant progress in enhancing and broadening the help available to customers in vulnerable situations.
  • Collaborative working with other sectors has resulted in more tailored help being offered to customers.

However, there is still work to do to address the challenges faced by the industry. We would particularly like to see:

  • More customers moving to metered billing if they could save money
  • A more standardised approach to delivering affordability assistance, so that help is available to all who need it, regardless of where they live
  • The use of data sharing and improved communications to increase the take up of assistance schemes
  • More funding being available to help support customers in financial hardship

We will increase our work with the industry, governments and regulators to help the industry meet these challenges. Specifically, we will:

  • Press Ofwat to strengthen the position on vulnerability within the 2019 Price Review;
  • Work with companies through Customer Challenge Groups to ensure that business plans deliver for vulnerable customers; and
  • Press companies to make further improvements in terms of the help that is available for vulnerable customers