Ofwat is today opening a conversation with the water sector and beyond to listen, care and share, to help make sure that customers across the country are getting what they need from their water company.
It will listen to the needs of customers and what they have experienced through the pandemic, and explore what more can be done to provide them with the support needed.
Ofwat is inviting expert organisations, the water sector and customers themselves to share examples of great practices, areas that may need attention, and the learnings that can be taken from these examples.
To begin with, the conversation is focusing on three key themes:
- Financial vulnerability – Research by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that by autumn 2020, more than a third of adults faced a worse financial situation because of Covid-19.
- Mental wellbeing – Money and Mental Health Policy Institute report that people experiencing mental health problems are three and a half times more likely to be in problem debt.
- Information inequality – People without access to digital communications are now even more excluded because so many face-to-face services have been suspended during the pandemic.
To inform the conversation, Ofwat has undertaken customer research, hosted roundtables and engaged with a number of interested parties to better understand the situation from the customers’ perspective. Over the coming weeks, it intends to delve deeper into the themes and share findings, inviting the sector to get involved.
David Black, Interim Chief Executive at Ofwat said:
“There is no doubt how hard this past year has been and that the financial and social impact of Covid-19 will be long felt by customers across society. By understanding people’s needs and priorities through the pandemic we can make a positive difference for customers and communities.
“We want to connect the many conversations already happening about how to listen to and care for customers during this time and share learning and best practice for the benefit of all water customers.”
Emma Clancy, Chief Executive at CCW said:
“As we emerge from Covid-19 it’s vital we keep our finger on the pulse of water consumers’ experiences of the pandemic so we can ensure the water industry is at the forefront of helping households on the long road to recovery.
“Challenges of the magnitude we face demand that all of us in the water sector work together to learn from our successes, as well as our mistakes, so we can unite behind the best ways to ensure people have the support and advice they need – when they need it most.”