Developing new vulnerability guidance


Some customers need extra help from their water company to access water and wastewater services due to their personal circumstances. For example, due to being disabled, chronically sick or elderly.

We think that water companies should identify and understand the full diversity of their customers’ needs and meet them through the services and extra help they provide.

We are developing new guidance for water companies setting out our expectations for the services they deliver to customers who are vulnerable to non-financial harm – such as physical or mental health. We already have one set of guidance – Paying Fair – that requires companies to make it easy for customers to pay, get help and repay debts, to prevent them becoming financially vulnerable. And we continue to challenge companies to improve the support they deliver to all customers to help them with cost of living pressures.

Our new vulnerability guidance will build on the foundations we have laid through our work over recent years, to challenge companies to think more broadly about the customers that may be vulnerable and the support they offer.

Thanks in part to the action we have taken, we’ve seen examples of good progress around vulnerability support in the water sector in recent years. This includes significant increases in the reach of companies’ priority services registers, and improved data sharing with energy companies and other third parties to identify customers that need extra help. We hope that our guidance will set a course for further improvement in the years ahead.

Next steps

  • We have been speaking with and listening to customer representatives, other regulators and companies about what our new guidance should include.
  • We plan to plan to publish a consultation on our new guidance in July 2023
  • Once the consultation closes, we will review the responses we receive and consider what changes may need to be made
  • We will then publish our final guidance. We estimate this will be in Autumn 2023.
  • The guidance will sit under our new customer-focused licence condition, and we will enforce certain aspects of that licence condition with reference to this guidance.

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Last updated: 23 June 2023