Four appellants reject tone as well as the content of Ofwat’s CMA response
The Competition and Markets Authority has now published responses from the four companies appealing their PR19 determinations to Ofwat’s response to their statements of case.
As well as standing by their statements of case, answering points made by the regulator, providing additional evidence and referencing third party support for their cases, the companies roundly condemned the tone and approach of Ofwat’s contributions. This included:
• In a foreword to Northumbrian Water’s submission, chief executive Heidi Mottram said: “In responding to our Statement of Case Ofwat has sought to characterise our plan as ‘less for more’. This is clearly erroneous. Our plan offers our customers more (enhanced resilience and improved service levels) for less (we have offered sector-leading bill reductions).”
• Bristol Water remarked: “The tone and content of Ofwat’s Response were both surprising and concerning. We found the language used unnecessarily aggressive, the tone dismissive of key issues without due consideration, and the approach overly focused on irrelevant process matters. The content did not address many of the issues raised in our SoC and included many misleading statements.”
• Anglian Water said it had desired an early resolution to the redetermination process to allow all parties to focus on responding to Covid-19 and ensuring customers continue to receive essential services. But added: “Regrettably, Ofwat seems to have concluded that, despite the huge amount of evidence and expert reports submitted in the SoCs, there are almost no points that any party has raised that merit any adjustment to its Final Determination position. This inflexible position seems to close the door on finding a way forward to early resolution.”
• Yorkshire Water said: “Ofwat has made a number of strong claims about YWS’s conduct and past
performance. It is striking that this is the first time Ofwat has set out these views. YWS considers the claims to be wrong and unsubstantiated. YWS’s approach throughout PR19 has always been evidence-based and it is disappointed that Ofwat has chosen to make a set of assertions about YWS’s motivations. YWS regards these assertions not only as wrong, but also as unnecessary and irrelevant, and it is concerned that they may deflect attention from the flaws in the Final Determination”