Ofwat consults on licence reforms – with Thames in the spotlight

On Friday, Ofwat published a consultation on the ring-fencing provisions in company licences. This was the latest step in its package of measures to respond to government criticisms of the industry on grounds of poor service of the public interest.

The regulator said the ring-fencing provisions were an important tool in ensuring services to customers are resilient in the long term. It is continuing to explore how companies’ licences can be reformed to help ensure that companies put customers’ interests at the heart of what they do.

As part of the consultation, Change of control - general policy and its application to Thames Water Ofwat also considered Thames Water’s recent change of control and proposed modifications to Thames’ licence. Ofwat said: “These changes would, if taken forward, align Thames’ licence with the most up to date of Ofwat’s current ring-fencing conditions. It also proposes introducing notification requirements that apply when Thames becomes aware that a change of control is likely to occur, or has occurred. Ofwat expects to introduce similar modifications to all companies’ licences later in the year.”

Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher commented: “Ensuring that regulated water companies are autonomous, regardless of who owns and controls the company, is an important way in which Ofwat protects customers. The changes we are proposing will help strengthen those protections and drive water companies to focus on delivering for customers at all times.”