Progress on data sharing but no strategic policy statement yet from minister

Water minister Therese Coffey was able to report firm advancement on one industry priority – data sharing to assist with affordability assistance targeting – but kept the sector waiting for progress on other aspects when she spoke at Water UK’s City Conference last week.

Coffey (pictured) said she had made sure water company access to public sector data was part of the Digital Economy Bill, which is currently at the Report stage in the Lords. The industry has long asked for access to Department of Work and Pensions data to help it deliver social tariffs and other assistance tools to those who need them most.

But the minister was unable to announce the issue of a Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat on the day of the conference (9th) as the industry had hoped – with procedural reasons rather than anything more fundamental rumoured to be the cause. Coffey told the conference the SPS would follow “shortly”.

She added she was still weighing up the merits of both a National Policy Statement and a household retail market. She confirmed the government remained committed to publishing a 25 year environment plan during this parliament and to leave the environment in a better state than it found it.