PN 38/22 Some water companies investing less than half of their allowances to improve water network


Ofwat has today revealed that water and wastewater companies are falling behind on their investment plans, leaving promised service improvements behind schedule or undelivered.

Ofwat, as part of the price review process, sets allowances for how much companies can invest over the price control period, to maintain and improve its water network. Between 2020 and 2022 (the first two years of PR19), 14 companies underspent their budget on improving their water network and eight companies underspent their budget for improving their wastewater network.

Affinity Water and Northumbrian Water spent just 47% and 48% of their water enhancement allowance respectively, and Yorkshire Water and South West Water spent just 20% and 39% of their wastewater enhancement allowance respectively.

The main areas of underspend across both categories include drought resilience, improvements to sewage treatment works, improvements to storm tank capacity and reducing spill frequency.

David Black, CEO said:

“We expect companies to deliver the service improvements they were funded to deliver. No ifs, no buts.

“The lack of investment from companies we’re seeing at the moment is extremely disappointing, especially in light of the poor performance for customers and the environment. Failure to invest or delays to investments means that vital improvements are not being made or are late. I am expecting these companies to get a grip on their investment programme and make up for the shortfalls to deliver the associated improvements in service.”

Ofwat’s Water Company Performance report, formerly the Service Delivery Report, will be published in full on 8 December 2022.


Notes to Editors


  • PR19 runs between 2020 and 2025 and more information on company allowances can be found here.
  • The excerpt of the Water Company Performance report relating to investment can be found here. The data set underlying this excerpt can be found here.
  • Investment in the sector has remained broadly stable since privatisation. For more information on investment in the water sector, please see: Investment in the water industry – Ofwat.