Complaint against South East Water Limited regarding GSS payment (OFW-043752)

 

Case reference – OFW-043752

Case summary

On 7 November 2023 Ofwat opened a case after receiving a request for a determination about an unpaid guaranteed standards scheme (GSS) payment from a customer of South East Water.  

The dispute relates to a period of supply interruption in December 2022 for which the customer did not receive any prior notice. The supply interruption took place following a period of bad weather. Under the Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations 2008 (as amended in 2017) (“GSS Regulations”) a customer is entitled to a payment from a water company in certain circumstances for a water supply interruption.  

South East Water informed the customer that it was not required to make a compensation payment under the GSS Regulations and credited the customer’s account with a £75 payment as a gesture of goodwill due to the severity of the impact the customer experienced. The customer considered that South East Water should make them a further payment of £175.

Relevant powers
The Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations 2008 (amended in 2017)  

Summary of Ofwat’s Final Determination  

Under the regulation 17E and 17F of the GSS Regulations a customer may be entitled to a payment if they experience a supply interruption that is a result of the water company acting under section 60(1) of the Water Industry Act 1991 (“the Act”). Section 60(1) of the Act refers to supply interruptions where a water company takes actions to reduce or interrupt supply. In this instance the supply interruption was attributable to a loss of storage due to an increased number of leaks across South East Water’s network as a result of the adverse weather conditions that occurred in December 2022. As the interruption was not a result of South East Water taking action under section 60(1) of the Act, regulations 17E and 17F do not apply. Therefore, our determination concluded that no GSS payment was due to be paid.  

Ofwat understands that supply interruptions, regardless of the cause, heavily impact customers. We are working with the Consumer Council for Water (“CCW”) who are currently considering whether changes should be made to the Government’s Guaranteed Standards Scheme.   

CCW wants to ensure that the GSS Regulations adequately support customers and reflect the impact incidents have on those who experience poor service. CCW consulted customers and invited water companies and other involved parties to share their opinions or comments on the scheme and created the following report reflecting customer views and this report that captured some water companies’ opinions, thoughts and comments.  

In addition to collecting feedback, CCW has established an industry working group, that Ofwat is a part of, to consider the responses and develop a set of recommendations for changes to the GSS. We will bring the findings from this case to CCW’s attention for consideration as part of its review. 

Key publications  

Final decision – complaint against South East Water regarding GSS payment (OFW-043752)

Date opened   

7 November 2023 

Date closed 

21 March 2024