IB 17/15: Ofwat publishes self-lay consultation

Today Ofwat has published its consultation document ‘Trust and confidence: self-lay provision of new connections’.

Providing new water connections is currently one of only a few areas of the sector where customers in England and Wales can choose their service provider. Self-lay organisations (SLOs) compete with water companies to provide new connections, but to do so must agree a self-lay agreement with the local water company who will ultimately take on ownership of the new pipework. Some of the terms in self-lay agreements relate to how a water company can assure itself about the quality of the infrastructure the SLO is providing. These terms can be a common area of dispute and potentially a barrier to SLOs competing to provide their services.

Ofwat is keen to ensure SLOs can fairly compete in this market and that water companies can provide safe and secure water supplies to existing and new and customers. This consultation seeks interested parties’ views about how the terms in self-lay agreements can reasonably balance these objectives. The consultation is part of wider work Ofwat and the wider sector are doing to improve services water companies provide to developers and self-lay organisations (SLOs).

Richard Khaldi, Senior Director, Customers and Casework, stated:

“Competition in the water connections market can benefit customers by driving more customer-focussed, efficient and innovative services. We want to see that market working well for customers and are working with water companies to ensure SLOs can fairly compete to provide customers with choice. This includes ensuring water companies’ self-lay agreements are fair and that disputes can be avoided.

Last year we set out our general expectations on a series of common areas of dispute for new connections charging. This has helped to reduce the number of disputes arising on these issues and we are keen to expand that approach to other areas of dispute, such as self-lay agreements. Having an open conversation as a sector on the issues in this consultation will help to build greater trust and confidence between water companies and their SLO and developer customers. It will also drive improvements through the sharing of good practice.”

-Ends-

Notes to Editors:

  1. If a developer requires a new water main(s) or service connection(s) it can ask the water company to install the pipework or can choose a suitably qualified contractor (a self-lay organisation, SLO) to do the work, which is known as self-lay. The water company will take over responsibility for (‘adopt’) the self-laid water pipes, subject to a self-lay agreement between the water company and the SLO and/or developer.
  2. Ofwat has previously published its general expectations regarding how water companies provide new connections and a series of common areas of dispute for charging for new connections.
  3. The consultation closes on 13 November 2015. Responses should be sent to TrustInSelfLay@ofwat.gsi.gov.uk
  4. Media enquiries to Ofwat Press Office: Benedict Fisher 0121 644 7642 / benedict.fisher@ofwat.gsi.gov.uk