Our plans

We set out our plans to meet our strategy in our five-year business plan and our annual forward programme.

© Dan Lavric
© Dan Lavric

Our strategic priorities 2016-17

Trust and confidence in water and wastewater services can only be achieved by the sector, working with its stakeholders. As the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales, our role is to help it build trust and confidence with customers, the environment and wider society. We explain more about what this means in our vision for Ofwat.

For 2016-17, we have identified a number of areas where we can make the biggest impact for customers now and for the coming years. We set these out below.

1. Working to ensure that markets deliver real benefits for customers, the environment and society

This will include:

  • working with Welsh Government, water companies in Wales and National Resources Wales to ensure that regulation supports the effective development of payments for eco-systems services;
  • working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Market Operator Services Limited (MOSL), to put in place the arrangements – as set out in the Water Act 2014 − for the opening of the retail market for eligible business, charity and public sector customers of companies whose areas are wholly or mainly in England in April 2017 in a way that secures benefits for customers;
  • completing our review, following a request from the UK Government, of the costs and benefits of extending choice to residential customers in England; and
  • continuing our work as part of the Water 2020 programme on whether and how markets in England and Wales for water resources and for sludge treatment and disposal can help the sector become more efficient and more sustainable. We will continue our work with the sector to improve developer services. We will also continue to support the UK and Welsh Governments’ work on abstraction reform.

2. Improving information and accountability

We will further develop our toolkit to monitor the sector’s performance and its resilience, making sure that this enables us to hold the sector to account and informs our interventions – and enables the sector to step up and others to hold it to account. This will include developing our reporting and assurance frameworks. It also includes publishing our assessment of the reliance that can be placed on companies’ assurance based on the quality of information they provide to us and the other information we have. We will set out how these will inform the way we assess companies’ business plans at the 2019 price review. We will work with Water UK as it takes forward the development of the sector dashboard, helping to ensure that it allows customers and society to see how the sector is doing in relation to things that matter for trust and confidence.

3. Maintaining customer confidence through a period of change

We recognise the changes that are coming in the sector and to the way that we regulate it, and will ensure that service providers and others across the sector – including us as the regulator – maintain the confidence of customers in providing these vital public services. This includes making sure that the changes in the sector deliver demonstrable benefits for customers, now and in the long term.

4. Maintaining investor confidence through a period of change

We recognise the changes that the Water Act 2014 and possible further devolution of competence in relation to water and wastewater to the Welsh Government will bring to the sector and the way we regulate it to benefit customers. During this period of change, we need to continue to maintain the confidence of investors in the sector and the economic regulatory framework. This includes continuing to discharge our statutory financeability duty, to ensure that efficient companies can access capital markets.

5. To ensure that Ofwat has the skills, experience, systems, processes and culture that support our new strategy

We will develop the people, infrastructure and governance to deliver the new strategy and vision for the sector. We will also develop the tools, information and approaches to regulation that we need to deliver our duties efficiently, effectively and using best regulatory practice. A particular focus this year will be on developing our delivery model for the 2019 price review and making sure we have the capabilities it requires.