Ofwat seeks powers to drive higher standards in customer service across water sector


Ofwat is seeking new powers to take action against water and wastewater companies across England and Wales when customer service falls short. A consultation has opened on a new licence condition to ensure companies better reflect customer expectations, drive higher standards of customer service and support the full diversity of customer needs.

The new requirement will set out the principles that companies must follow in delivering their services to customers and dealing with problems when they arise.

The changes will mean that each company must ensure:

  • customers are well-informed at all stages of the customer journey;
  • when something does go wrong, customers can rely on their company to put it right; and
  • all customers’ needs are identified, understood and met by companies in the services and extra help they provide.

Together with CCW, the independent voice for water consumers in England and Wales, Ofwat has commissioned research to ensure customer views and expectations are built into the proposal and the consultation is now open to the wider public and businesses.

David Black, Ofwat CEO said:

“In England and Wales, households are not able to choose their water company, so it is crucial that good customer service is not a postcode lottery. We want the powers to enforce that fundamental expectation.  People expect their water company to get the basics right and rectify things quickly when they go wrong and to take responsibility and offer compensation when appropriate.

“Companies need to identify and meet the needs of all customers, they need to be clear in their communications and we expect them to work together to share learning that helps to achieve high standards across the sector. Where we see companies letting their customers down, these powers give us the scope to step in and take action.”

The consultation closes on Friday 7 July 2023 and Ofwat will publish the licence change in the autumn.

The consultation document and the customer research are available on our website.