• by Karma Loveday

Spotlight on trust


"Trust in water" is Ofwat's strapline for its current five-year strategy. In the June issue of THE WATER REPORT we have explored issue of trust in the water industry and our coverage includes comments from political, regulatory, consumer and other quarters that show the spread of views in play.

Here are some examples.

“Unconstructive public criticism of the sector stakeholders by any party can have a detrimental effect on trust. Identification of best practice is a much more constructive way to drive improvements and increase trust.”

“Privatisation of this essential asset has driven the country’s assets into a critical situation. With a growing population and an ageing infrastructure, we are heading towards a car crash. Shareholders are looking for dividends and to ensure this happens the water companies are either sweating their assets to the point of failure or driving the supply chain out of the industry. We have a huge resource issue that needs to be addressed and both Ofwat and the water companies need to start to take some ownership over the consequences of their behaviours.”

“Mostly the sector is unseen and customers default to a position of trust in the absence of information…and experience of satisfactory service. But there are quite a few stories around at the moment that provide information suggesting the public shouldn't trust in water - e.g re service failures (Thames bursts and pollution fines), high prices (e.g Ian Byatt on News at Ten), and high (unearned) dividends for investors and financial complexity (FT article). And these are running issues for the sector that will keep bubbling up unless action is taken.”

“If trust falls, political and regulatory uncertainty increases, potentially raising the cost of capital.”

And now we have a call by Ofwat chairman Jonson Cox for Thames Water to adopt a five-point plan to “help demonstrate the company’s intent to turn a corner” and his criticism of “the way it operates and behaves”.

For the full picture and informed analysis of the depth and span of the issues of trust in the water sector see our June issue or visit https://www.thewaterreport.co.uk/


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