The Consumer Council for Water has applauded Wessex Water for sharing the company’s success with its consumers by using a portion of their profits to invest in improved services.
The water watchdog recently wrote to each water company challenging them to think about consumers in their profit announcement so that consumers, not just shareholders, benefit from a successful year.
Wessex Water has risen to the challenge and over the next two years committed to spend an extra £14 million from their profits above and beyond what is required by the regulator, Ofwat. The investments will be used to further reduce leakage, provide greater security of supply, and reduce the risk of sewer flooding.
When added to the extra of £6.4 million already spent to improve their service since 2005, Wessex Water consumers will have benefited from £20 million in additional investments by 2010. Wessex Water have also agreed to improve support to customers who struggle to pay their water bills.
Charles Howeson, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water Western, said: “We are very happy that Wessex Water has listened to us and decided to provide added value to its consumers, not just its shareholders.
“Wessex Water must now work hard to demonstrate and communicate to its consumers the extra benefits they are getting for their money. Although Consumer Council for Water research says that the majority of consumers are generally satisfied with the service they get from their companies, many say that they do not see improved service or other benefits from price increases.
“Looking forward to the next water price review, which will be decided in 2009, we are pressing the water industry to place consumers at the heart of the whole process. In particular Ofwat should listen to consumers, take note of what they are saying, and set prices and service improvements to reflect what consumers want and will find acceptable.”
Wessex Water announced after tax profits of £95.5 million for 2007/8, an increase of 6.2% on the previous year.