Last Wednesday, DEFRA laid its Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat – in essence a shopping list of government priorities for the sector, which it will enact by issuing priorities and objectives for the regulator – before Parliament.
Like the draft consulted on in March, the final statement identified two overriding (and to a degree overlapping) priorities: securing long term resilience and protecting customers. On resilience, DEFRA said: “Ofwat should challenge the water sector to plan, invest and operate to meet the needs of current and future customers, in a way which offers best value for money over the long term.”
On customer protection, DEFRA’s priority was: “Ofwat should challenge the water sector to go further to identify and meet the needs of customers who are struggling to afford their charges.”
The statement also specified what government priorities and objectives mean for the evolution of water markets: “Ofwat should promote markets to drive innovation and achieve efficiencies in a way that takes account of the need to further: (i) the long-term resilience of water and wastewater systems and services; and / or (ii) the protection of vulnerable customers.”
For more details on this pivotal piece of policy making, see October’s THE WATER REPORT.