Ofwat has given the green light to three water companies for their “high quality” business plans for 2020/25.
The regulator has fast-tracked Severn Trent Water, South West Water and United Utilities’ plans – which set out how they will reduce bills for customers – so they can now get started on delivering them for customers.
Severn Trent Water has proposed bill reductions of £18, United Utilities £43 and South West Water £73 – the difference between projected 2019/20 and 2024/25 bills in 2017/18 prices.
They have also set out ambitions to significantly improve support for vulnerable customers and deliver “real change’ in areas like cutting water leakage across England and Wales.
The remaining water companies will have to strengthen their plans over the coming months – Ofwat says it will be pushing them to go further to achieve the new standard set by the three firms.
Water companies, across the board, are proposing significant improvements for customers over the five years from 2020, including a 15% reduction in leakage – the equivalent of more than 170 billion litres of water per year, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 45% and up to 80% reduction in pollution incidents.
They have also pledged to help up to 1.5 million customers struggling to pay their water bills and invest at least £10 billion extra to meet more stringent environmental standards.
Companies categorised as either “slow track” or significant scrutiny” must submit revisions to their business plans addressing the shortcoming identified by Ofwat by 1st April 2019.
Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat Chief Executive said: “We have challenged all water companies to deliver more for less for customers over the next five years. They’ve listened to the customers they serve. We’re seeing an increased focus on the things closest to people’s hearts such as keeping bills affordable, cutting leakage, protecting the environment and helping those most in need.
“Three companies have already stepped up to the mark with high quality plans and stretching commitments to customers for the next five years. The rest of the sector now needs to meet this high standard so that customers across the country get better and more efficient services.”