Ofwat names best and worst companies on information assurance

Ofwat has named the three best and the four worst water companies in its assessment of their assurance of information they publish relating to the 2016-17 financial year. Of the laggards’ communications of data Ofwat said “the regulator and customers cannot be sure the information presented is complete and accurate.”

The regulator’s top trio was Northumbrian Water, South East Water and United Utilities while the back markers were Bristol Water, Dee Valley Water, Southern Water and Thames Water.

Ofwat assessed the firms’ explanations and assurances of their data using its company monitoring framework “to judge if customers can have confidence in what companies report.”

Senior director for finance and governance at Ofwat, Aileen Armstrong said: “As customers, we want to be able to trust what we get from our water company – be that the water out of the tap or what they tell us. Unfortunately, on the second of those, our checks suggest we might not be able to take everything at face value.

“These businesses provide essential public services and they need to assure customers they are doing the right things in the right way. If they are to gain and keep the trust of customers, they need to have high quality checks on their information and present it fairly, clearly and completely.”

The companies were placed in three categories: self assurance, targeted and prescribed. Each category had to meet minimum requirements set out in July this year in the Company monitoring framework final position. The ten targeted companies were:

Affinity Water

Anglian Water

Dwr Cymru

Portsmouth Water

Severn Trent Water

SES Water South Staffordshire Water

South West Water

Wessex Water

Yorkshire Water

For each category the other permissions and requirements were:

self- assurance – discretion to decide what additional assurance arrangements to put in place;

targeted – to assess and publish strengths and weaknesses, consult stakeholders and publish draft assurance plans on the identified risks and weaknesses; and

prescribed – meet the requirements for targeted companies, and its draft assurance plan must cover all information. And areas of “most significance or greatest risk to customers” require independent external assurance. Prescribed firms must publish its assurance plans for all information ahead of reporting and engage with Ofwat and other stakeholders before it publishing its final assurance plans.