PN 38/18: Water companies submit improvement plans following ‘Beast from the East’ review


Water companies across England and Wales will today submit plans detailing how they are addressing the shortcomings identified in their handling of the ‘Beast from the East’.

Ofwat’s review into company performance, published in June, found a mixed picture, with some companies responding well and protecting customers, but others falling short with their advance planning, response and communication with customers. Four companies in particular were found to have let their customers down – Thames Water, Severn Trent, Southern Water and South East Water – and they have been specifically required to submit to Ofwat a detailed, externally assured action plan.

Ofwat will now carefully scrutinise the companies’ plans and intends to publish a response by mid-November. If the regulator believes that any company’s plan doesn’t go far enough, it will step in.

Ofwat Chief Executive, Rachel Fletcher said:

“The harsh weather in the spring left many customers out in the cold with no running water, in some cases for days. While a number of water companies and their hard working staff stepped up and did well by customers, others fell well short, particularly when it came to providing bottled water, help for the most vulnerable, or clear, timely communication.

We expect the companies that let their customers down to have learned the lessons of what went wrong during the freeze/thaw, and to show that they are now prepared to protect their customers, whatever the weather brings. This would be a great result for customers. If companies do not convince us of this, we won’t hesitate to step in.”


 Notes to editor:

  • Following the widespread disruption experienced by water customers during and after the freeze/thaw in April/May, Ofwat, in cooperation with the Consumer Council for Water, launched a review, the Terms of Reference for which can be found HERE
  • Ofwat published the findings of its review in June. To view the findings, CLICK HERE
  • Immediately following the publication of the findings of its review, Ofwat required four water companies to submit – no later than 28 September – a detailed, externally audited, action plan setting out how they how they are addressing the issues identified.
  • Ofwat will consider each of the plans submitted today in detail and intends to publish its response by mid-November.