PN 22/19: Encouraging signs shown by some companies, but more work to be done by the water sector as a whole to deliver for customers and the environment


Ofwat’s service delivery report published today found that there is a real gap between the best and worst performers in the sector, but that the industry as a whole has not kept up the progress made in earlier years and performance has stagnated. For example, despite increasing since 2015-16, customer satisfaction across the sector has deteriorated in 2018-19. Eight companies have made modest reductions in leakage but these are more than offset by the increases made by the poorer performing companies.

The service delivery report compares performance on the outcomes that matter to customers such as leakage and pollution, and how much was spent to deliver them, by the 17 largest water companies in England and Wales. Anglian Water, Wessex Water and Portsmouth Water lead the sector in delivering services for customers overall, and spent less than anticipated doing so. In contrast Thames Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy languish consistently at the bottom of the table, having been ranked among the poorest performers in multiple areas, including customer service and supply interruptions.

Ofwat examined performance in the most recent year, 2018-19 in addition to indicating the direction of change from 2017-18, for example whether outcomes performance (such as leakage) has improved or got worse. The companies have been grouped into three categories (better performers, average performers, and poorer performers) based on their performance against the commitments they made in 2014.

Rachel Fletcher Chief Executive at Ofwat said:

“This latest report card on the water sector shows some real variation in company performance. Customers served by Anglian, Wessex and Portsmouth tend to have a better service. But it also shows some inertia at the bottom of the pack with Thames Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy underperforming across a wide range of measures.

“It’s great that we are seeing some real improvements on things that matter – like reducing sewer flooding. But in other areas the industry’s performance is stagnating.   Ofwat’s new strategy and the challenges we are setting in the price review for the five year period to 2025, require companies to transform their performance, particularly those at the bottom of the pile. We are raising what we expect from companies and in responding to that, they will need to show innovation and real ambition.”

As part of its new strategy Ofwat aims to make more use of the insight and data it holds. By ranking companies according to their measured performance, Ofwat is looking to make it clear for companies where they need to focus their efforts in delivering improvements for customers and the environment.

Notes to editors

  1. Service delivery report
  2. Time to Act together – Ofwat’s strategy