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Water company trust at 13-year low

Trust in water companies hits a 13-year low as consumer satisfaction declines, raising concerns over proposed bill increases and environmental performance

Trust in water companies has reached its lowest point in 13 years, according to the annual Water Matters survey by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).

The survey, a measure of consumer sentiment, reveals widespread dissatisfaction across various aspects of water company services.

Among the most concerning findings is the decline in customer satisfaction with sewerage services, dropping to an all-time low of 65%.

This decline is attributed to concerns over wastewater disposal and cleaning processes.

Similarly, only half of households perceive their water provider as genuinely caring about the services it delivers, indicating a notable erosion of consumer trust.

The survey also highlights a significant decrease in perceived fairness regarding service charges, with only 55% of respondents considering their bills reasonable – the lowest recorded level to date.

Trust in water companies has reached its nadir, with each company witnessing a decline in trust scores.

This downward trend has led to energy suppliers surpassing water companies for the first time in terms of consumer trust.

Environmental performance emerges as a significant area of concern, with just a third of respondents expressing satisfaction with the industry’s current efforts to protect the environment.

The decline in satisfaction is particularly evident in wastewater management, with only 35% of customers content with companies’ treatment processes, compared to 88% a decade ago.

Despite these challenges, some positive strides are noted in the survey.

Awareness of financial assistance programmes offered by water companies has increased, with schemes aimed at supporting low income households gaining traction.

However, the impending significant bill rises expected over the next five years heighten the importance of such support initiatives.

Dr Mike Keil, Chief Executive of CCW, said: “These are the worst results we’ve ever seen in our survey and it largely stems from customers’ concerns over companies’ environmental performance.

“It’s little surprise people are questioning whether they are getting a fair deal.

“Trust won’t be rebuilt and customers will not tolerate future bill rises unless they see and feel a step change in the service they receive from their water company – whether that’s having the confidence to swim at their local beach or experiencing a more reliable water supply.”

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