Customer-focused licence condition

Ofwat customer-focused licence condition logo

Transforming water companies’ performance for customers

In 2022 we are launching our work with the sector to develop a customer-focused licence condition for water companies in serving residential customers. And we need you to help us.

In our strategy, ‘Time to Act, Together’, we said that we want to see water companies transform their ability to serve customers and respond to the full diversity of customer needs. And we’re using a variety of tools to do just that.

Licence conditions can help increase companies’ customer focus and incentivise the very best service for customers while ensuring that we have the right mix of tools to effect change when service falls short.

To support the sector’s transformation, licences need to provide a clear regulatory basis in relation to how companies treat their customers, including customers in vulnerable circumstances.

Find out more below on how you can get involved and more background to this work.

Last updated: 9 June 2022

Why we need a new customer-focused licence condition

We held a workshop for customer representatives and water companies on 9 June 2022.

Emma Kelso, our Senior Director for Markets, Enforcement and Customer Policy, introduced the workshop and spoke about why we need a licence condition.

 

Get involved

We’d welcome views from any individuals or organisations on what the new licence condition should cover or any other aspect of how it could work.

Please send us your views using our survey form: https://forms.office.com/r/1kcMec18yq

We’re particularly interested in views on the follwoing questions.

  • What are the issues and problems with customer service and the support water companies provide their customers currently?
  • What tools might be used (by e.g. Ofwat, CCW, Water UK or water companies) to address these issues?
  • How might a licence condition support addressing these issues?
  • How detailed should the licence condition be?
  • What lessons can be learned from other sectors?
  • How can water companies, customer bodies and others contribute to the design and development of the licence condition?
  • What are the next steps?

You can also send us your views or ask any questions about this work by emailing: [email protected].

We will use the responses we receive to this survey to inform our co-creation work in Autumn 2022. We may also publish them on our website at www.ofwat.gov.uk, unless you indicate that you would like your response to remain unpublished. Please see further terms and conditions of responding to our work below.

We plan to co-create the new licence condition working closely with customer bodies, water companies and others. We will also publicly consult on changes before we introduce them into companies’ licences.

Water companies’ licences

Over 50 million people are served by water companies across England and Wales every day. Residential customers cannot choose their supplier for water and wastewater services, so Ofwat protects their interests. One of the tools we use are companies’ licences.

Each water company we regulate has a licence (called an ‘instrument of appointment’) that sets out the terms and conditions that they must stick to in order to run their business. This doesn’t include everything they have to do in supplying water and wastewater services or as a UK business. But it provides clarity to everyone of our expectations of them as a regulated company.

We can consult on and change individual or all companies licences. If a company does not agree to a change to its licence then:

  • In England, companies can appeal to the Competition and Markets Authority if they disagree with us introducing a new licence condition.
  • In Wales, it would be for Ofwat to appeal to the Competition and Market Authority if companies do not agree to us introducing it.

News and updates

Below are the latest publications, news and updates on our work.

Responding to our work

We may publish responses to our customer-focused licence condition on our website at www.ofwat.gov.uk. Information provided in response to the customer-focused licence condition, including personal data, may be published or disclosed in accordance with legislation on access to information – primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA), the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and data protection law. For further information on how we process personal data please see our Privacy Policy. If you think that any of the information in your response should not be disclosed (for example, because you consider it to be commercially sensitive), you should identify that information and explain why, giving detailed reasons, which we will consider when deciding whether to publish it. Please be aware that, under the FoIA, there is a statutory ‘Code of Practice’ which deals, among other things, with obligations of confidence. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information, we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that we can maintain confidentiality in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on Ofwat.