Wessex Water has announced how it’s proposing record levels of investment and lower bills as it further improves water and sewerage services for customers over the coming years.
The company has submitted a business plan to water industry regulator Ofwat detailing how it will be focussing on what matters most to customers during 2020-2025.
It follows the biggest ever consultation with customers, with more than 140,000 people providing feedback through surveys and independent focus groups giving their views on bills and services.
£1.4 billion will be invested over five years in areas such as tackling leakage – which is already at its lowest level, ensuring customers have reliable services by renewing ageing pipes, protecting homes from flooding and improving the environment.
Meanwhile, customer bills, before inflation, will be lower in 2025 than they are today.
Managing director Andy Pymer said: “While parts of the country struggled to cope with the effects of the Beast from the East in March and the prolonged dry weather this summer, our customers continued to have reliable, uninterrupted services, which was due to the millions of pounds invested over the years to protect water supplies.
“In our ambitious plan announced today, we’ve set out how we will continue to safeguard water and sewerage services for customers for many years to come.
“And by delivering things in a different way, through innovation, using state-of-the-art technology and working with others, we’re able to make substantial investments while reducing customer bills.”
In its business plan, Wessex Water has committed to improving the health of more than 400 miles of rivers across the region, making further substantial cuts to the number of accidental pollutions and having a clear ambition to be a carbon neutral company.
It is also investing to allow for a growing population, ensuring its water and sewerage networks remain resilient during extreme weather events and reducing the amount of water that is abstracted from the environment.
Highlights in Wessex Water’s investment plan include:
- Cutting leakage by a further 15%;
- Making 47 beaches even cleaner;
- Helping twice as many low-income households who are struggling to pay;
- Improving more than 400 miles of river;
- Improving resilience through 36 environmental partnerships;
- Offering a truly seven days a week service, not just for emergencies, but for customers’ convenience.
The investment plan also includes the upgrade of Saltford’s water recycling centre to increase capacity by a third.
Wessex Water said its mission is to be in the top 20 of all UK service businesses and a leader on environmental performance, adding it would benchmark itself not just against other water companies and utilities, but also against the UK’s very best service companies.
Mr Pymer explained: “While we have topped the water industry customer service league tables year on year, we realise customer expectation continues to grow, which is why we want to ensure we are one of the best retailers our customers deal with.
“Promoting competition and encouraging new ideas is really important too. So, if others can help us deliver a great service then we will make sure we work in partnership with them too.”
Mr Pymer said that success will be shared with customers and savings made will be returned through a new scheme, Wessex Community Foundation, that will support projects in local communities.
“We will be doing more than ever to support communities through participatory work, such as community education where we’ll be educating 120,000 children over five years about the importance of water, as well as engaging with students around science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.
“Providing greater opportunities for our customers to contribute to challenges, such as saving water, is something we’re passionate about as everyone has a stake in what is a natural resource.”
An independent group, the Wessex Water Partnership, ensured customer views were properly reflected when it came to deciding bill prices and services for 2020-2025.
Ofwat will now scrutinise Wessex Water’s business plan over the coming months.