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  • by Karma Loveday

PR24 business plans fall down on Public Interest Commitment pledges, CCW highlights

CCW is pressing for water companies to be held to account for the Public Interest Commitments (PICs) they made in 2019 to be delivered by 2030, as they plan their delivery strategies for the 2025-30 period. 

This was one thread of many to emerge in CCW’s assessment of water company PR24 business plans, published last week. 

The watchdog called out that three of the five 2019 societal leadership pledges made by the sector via Water UK were not universally set to be delivered: 

  • Bill affordability – the sector pledged to make bills affordable for all households where water charges account for more than 5% of their disposable income by 2030, but CCW highlighted that only 16% of customers said they could afford the substantial bill increases proposed. CCW also pointed out that: “Many companies highlight increases in the total number of people they’re helping. Yet very few water companies are aiming to eliminate water poverty through PR24.” It warmly welcomed those who are planning this – Severn Trent, Wessex Water, Northumbrian Water and Pennon. But called on Ofwat to require others to offer greater support in the draft determinations, and to impose a regulatory commitment on companies to use a proportion of future outperformance to fund affordability assistance –  as Yorkshire Water is planning to do. 

  • Net zero – CCW said the business plans show that some companies will not achieve the sector’s PIC to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030; in some cases the commitment has been dropped to accommodate environmental programme requirements. CCW called on Ofwat to hold companies to account for their net zero pledge.

  • Leakage – again, CCW pointed out that not many companies plan to triple the rate of leakage reduction by 2030 as pledged in a PIC. It said it would like to see Ofwat increase the companies’ targets where high cost investment should be driving greater ambition. 

Elsewhere in its business plan assessment, CCW commented on areas including: deliverability; customer engagement; bill profiles; Performance Commitments; use of bill revenue; clarity of how customers’ money is spent; nature-based solutions; and behaviour change as part of plans to secure future water supplies.


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