PN 01/19 Ofwat finds water companies’ customer satisfaction up but failures on some performance targets


Ofwat has today published its reports on water companies’ service, delivery and financial performance over 2017-18. Customer satisfaction has risen but still lags compared to other sectors. Overall performance on service commitments is mixed, reflecting poor responses from some companies to the “Beast from the East” in March 2018.

Anglian Water was the top performer on customer satisfaction, followed by Portsmouth Water, while Thames Water and SES Water fell to the bottom after marked improvements from both Southern Water and South West Water. Across the sector, more water companies have improved performance on pollution incidents and internal sewer flooding. Nearly half of water companies however, have failed to meet stretching targets on water supply interruptions, and leakage.

On financial performance, Ofwat is pleased to see that in the round, companies have looked further ahead in assessing their financial viability. This now needs to be matched by greater clarity in their explanations of payouts to shareholders.

Ofwat will take into account companies’ performance across all of these areas when making decisions later in 2019 about the bills customers will have to pay between 2020 and 2025.

Ofwat Senior Director David Black said

“Delivering a high quality service and good corporate behaviour are pivotal to the ongoing legitimacy of the water sector in the eyes of customers, and society more broadly.

“We are pleased to see that in many areas such as delivering customer satisfaction, assessing financial resilience and reducing pollution and sewer flooding, the dial is moving in the right direction. This now needs to be replicated across the board, so that all customers benefit from the highest levels of service.”

Notes to editors

The service and delivery report sets out water companies’ expenditure (totex) and the outcomes they delivered to customers.

Customer satisfaction across sectors is measured by the Institute for Customer Service here

The financial monitoring report sets out water companies’ financial performance and financial structures in the sector. It includes a new measure reporting on financial flows received by equity holders compared to the allowance in price limits.

They are drawn from information published by individual companies in their annual performance reports for the year to 31 March 2018 and other publicly available information.

In addition to information drawn from reports published by individual companies concerning their defined benefit pension obligations Ofwat commissioned a targeted review of company pension arrangements by Barnett Waddingham LLP, an independent UK consultancy, which we have published alongside the financial monitoring report.