Ofwat has unveiled its business plan for the next five years which is expected to help deliver its ‘Trust in water’ strategy.
It aims to protect customers and ensure water companies are delivering their services efficiently by controlling the price and making sure that where competition exists, it works well.
Under the plan, for the years 2017/18 to 2020/21, the watchdog will focus its regulatory intervention “where it is needed most”, facilitate and encourage the water sector to step up and assure it is delivering good outcomes and building strong relationships.
Some of its programmes include helping companies to develop service, financial and corporate resilience, develop future markets and ways of regulating and open a market that allows all business customers in England to choose their supplier for water and wastewater retail services from April 2017.
It also aims to establish a regulatory framework for the Thames Tideway Tunnel in the best interests of customers, the environment and society and is exploring introducing markets for water resource and sewage sludge disposal.
Ofwat stated: “We want to do the best we can for the customers and society that look to us to regulate the sector on their behalf. That is why our vision for Ofwat is to be working at the leading edge, trusted and respected, challenging ourselves and others to build trust and confidence in water.”
The watchdog claims to have halved its accommodation footprint and costs and is expected to save £3.5 million by 2019/20.
Ofwat is funded from licence fees paid by the companies it regulates and company licences set limits on the amount it is allowed to recover through those fees.
Most residential and business customers receive their water and wastewater from 18 regional monopoly companies.
Earlier this year the Public Accounts Committee criticised Ofwat for “consistently overestimating” water suppliers’ financing and tax costs when setting price limits between 2010 and 2015, which led to them making windfall gains of £1.2 billion in the last five years.