PN 39/21 Ofwat sets out options to protect customers from water company financing risk

Ofwat has today put forward options to strengthen water companies’ financial resilience. The options are designed to require companies to have robust finances and to better protect customers and the environment from the adverse consequences of financial risks taken by water companies. The options also push companies to link their financial decisions to their performance. 

Although the sector as a whole remains strongly investible, Ofwat is concerned that some companies have put risky financing arrangements in place and are not linking dividend decisions to performance for customers and the environment.

The options, which include raising the minimum standards of credit quality, strengthening expectations on dividend payments being linked to performance for customers, and increasing transparency, follow on from the recent Monitoring Financial Resilience report, where Ofwat raised concerns about the financial resilience of some companies in the sector. 

Ofwat interim Chief Executive, David Black, said: 

“Water companies need to be financially resilient and transparentabout their financial structures. We have concerns on both fronts that need addressing. They need to be financially secure enough to make the investment needed in the essential service they provide,maintain critical assets and protect the environment. Without that, customers and the environment will lose out.

“Dividends should be linked to performance, and companies have to improve this if they want to rebuild the trust of their customers.”

Ofwat welcomes views on the emerging thinking in this paper by 31 January 2022, and they can be emailed to [email protected]. 

Notes to editors