PN 20/19: Ofwat sets out strategy to improve life through water


Ofwat has today published a new strategy to help transform water company performance, meet long-term challenges and embed public purpose into the sector, so that it can improve life through water now and in the future.

Developed after a year of listening, during which time Ofwat spoke face-to-face with more than 250 different organisations and members of the public, the strategy focuses on how Ofwat can help deliver the things that matter most to people. That includes improving the environment, securing affordable bills, delivering resilient, reliable and high-quality services, and seeing companies act in the long-term interests of society and the environment.

Informed by those conversations, and to meet those ends, Ofwat has set three strategic goals:

  • to transform water companies’ performance for customers,
  • to drive water companies to meet long-term challenges through increased collaboration and partnerships, and
  • for water companies to serve a wider public purpose, delivering more for customers, society and the environment.

In meeting these goals, Ofwat will need to evolve and build on its existing work. This will include setting long-term targets for the industry, driving innovation, listening more to customers, encouraging collaboration and forming partnerships, using data to build insight and making the environment integral to all that it does.

Ofwat is also putting a new emphasis on water companies serving a public purpose through their work. People increasingly expect companies to act ethically and in the interests of wider society and the environment. Ofwat wants the water sector to become the first to embrace a sector-wide approach to doing this, so it can restore public trust and set the bar for other industries to follow.

Rachel Fletcher, Chief Executive at Ofwat, said:

“The challenges the water sector faces are profound: from climate change, to population growth; growing customer expectations, to meeting demand in areas where water is becoming scarce and the environment might be under threat. To secure and improve for future generations, we need to act now.

“Our strategy sets out an ambitious agenda of change for the water sector and describes how Ofwat will evolve and work differently. By transforming company performance, acting to meet the long-term needs of society and environment, and embedding a public purpose into water companies, we can deliver a legacy to be proud of, and one which improves life through water.”

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow MP, said:

“Government, regulators and the water industry must work together to deliver more for customers, communities and the environment.

“We need a water industry that works for everyone, and I welcome this document as a significant step forward in achieving our shared vision.”

Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Welsh Assembly said:

“We welcome the work Ofwat has done to develop their new strategy which makes a number of important commitments including the setting up of a new office in Wales; the delivery of high levels of customer satisfaction; the provision of resilient, cost-efficient water and sewage services and the preservation of the environment. We will continue to work with Ofwat to ensure the strategy delivers for the people of Wales.”

Environment Agency Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan, said:

“We welcome the launch of Ofwat’s new strategy for the water industry. Water is our most precious resource but the climate emergency and higher demand is putting it under increasing pressure.

“Everyone needs to play their part in meeting the challenges that lie ahead. We will continue to work closely with Ofwat to help transform the water industry for the benefit of customers and the environment.”

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said:

“We welcome the launch of Ofwat’s strategy and look forward to working with them and water companies to deliver common objectives, including protection of the water environment for people and wildlife, affordability and social justice.”

Drinking Water Inspectorate Chief Inspector, Marcus Rink, said:

“The Drinking Water Inspectorate supports Ofwat’s work in developing a long-term approach for water industry investment and challenging the industry to deliver for society more widely.”