Anglian Water fails to meet regulator’s requirements

An Anglian Water team at work detecting and repairing leaks. The company is investing �900,000 in pi

An Anglian Water team at work detecting and repairing leaks. The company is investing �900,000 in pipe upgrades in Attleborough and Metton. Picture: Anglian Water. - Credit: Archant

Anglian Water has had its knuckles rapped by the regulator Ofwat over its business plans, but it’s far from being the only water firm to face criticism.

Anglian Water

Anglian Water - Credit: Archant

Anglian Water is one of ten water suppliers deemed “slow track” firms that will have to rework their proposals for the 2020-25 period.

But another four water companies, including Britain’s biggest, Thames Water, will have to “substantially rework and resubmit” their five-year plans and will now face increased regulatory scrutiny.

Only three water companies out of 17 were given the green light to go ahead with their plans.

All the water companies had to submit plans to cut bills for millions of consumers over the 2020-25 period, while reducing leaks and helping vulnerable customers.

Anglian is one of Britain’s biggest water suppliers, serving six million homes and businesses. It is controlled by a consortium of investors including Australian, Canadian and British pension funds.

Alex Plant, Director of Strategy and Regulation at Anglian Water said: “We are confident we submitted a strong plan, a plan that is based on the priorities of our customers. Ofwat has commended us on many aspects of our plan, including the quality and depth of our half a million engagements with customers, which has been assessed as sector-leading. We have also been commended on the ambition of our proposals to support those in vulnerable circumstances.

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“However, Ofwat has set us some challenges around cost efficiency in particular.

“Over the coming weeks we will reflect on this feedback from Ofwat, work with our customers and stakeholders, and ensure we’re ready to embark on our ambitious programme of work up to 2025, to deliver the right outcomes for our customers, our region, and our environment.”

Ofwat said across the board, the water companies are all proposing significant improvements for customers in the 2020-25 business plans, including help for up to 1.5 million customers struggling to pay their water bills, a 15% reduction in leakage, up to 80% reduction in pollution incidents and at least £10 billion-worth of extra investment.

Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat chief executive, said water firms have in general “listened to the customers they serve” in this latest review.

“Three companies have already stepped up to the mark with high-quality plans and stretching commitments to customers for the next five years,” she said. “The rest of the sector now needs to meet this high standard so that customers across the country get better and more efficient services.”

Anglian Water now has until April 1 to submit revised business plans.

Anglian Water was also disappointed earlier this month when its attempt to force HM Revenue & Customs to return £12m in VAT that it overpaid was rejected in court.

Anglia claimed that it would have passed on the repayment to customers through a reduction in bills, or reinvested it in the business.