To meet our overall strategic objectives, our Forward Work Programme (FWP) contains the deliverables that we will focus on achieving in 2024-25.
These are over and above our business-as-usual activities – dealing with complaints, challenging companies, generating insights and communicating with customers. We chose these based on the substantial evidence we gather from consumers about what they think is important, as well as what CCW can influence given our remit and unique position in the water industry.
Our day-to-day work helping customers resolve disputes and save money is regularly measured and scrutinised by our Board. Our primary target for 2024-25 is that all complaints to CCW will be acknowledged and allocated for review to a Case Advisor within two working days.
Nobody can now ignore the impact the water sector has on the environment. We are facing an unprecedented climate crisis which will impact us all, as well as generations to come. In addition, one in four people in England and Wales are struggling to pay their water bill. And satisfaction levels for business customers are still lower than when that market opened in 2017.
Against this background, we believe that the three things that most urgently need fixing for the water consumers of England and Wales – which we can proactively help with – are:
Value for customers
The Guaranteed Standards Scheme – minimum standards of service for customers on things like supply interruption and sewer flooding – has not kept pace with customers’ expectations. There has been no review of payments or standards since 2008. There are also inconsistencies across England and Wales. CCW wants to see minimum GSS payments increased and new standards put in place.
CCW will feed in improvements from our “lessons learnt” work on the 2024 Price Review (PR24) to improve the next Price Review process.
We will look for opportunities to help shape the debate and regulatory framework with the long term in mind. The future of charges, customer involvement in price setting and people’s expectations on environmental quality – including informed opinions on storm overflows – are all areas we are considering.
Transparency of performance
CCW will be operating the Alternative Dispute Resolution from December 2023. To ensure transparency of CCW’s processes and performance, we will review the first four months and implement improvements as necessary. We will also examine the end-to-end complaints process every quarter to drive improvement. We will publish our findings.
CCW will enhance our yearly Water Mark company performance assessment to improve accessibility and better hold companies to account.
We will continue to work with water companies to ensure consumers are able to easily access clear and reliable near real-time data on companies’ use of storm overflows.
We will develop an incident assessment framework that includes company culture, and a process for sharing best practice – piloting from autumn 2024. We will encourage companies to publically share indicators of their culture, such as their employee experience results.
CCW will be transparent on our own performance on people and culture, mirroring our expectations for water companies.
We will facilitate Ofwat’s Your Water Your Say session in summer 2024.
Improved customer service
CCW will reinvigorate our debt and complaint assessments – assessing 10 companies in 2024-25.
We will use our extensive evidence base and work with water companies on root cause analysis of the issues that most affect customers – resulting in a decrease in complaints about billing and charges.
Getting basics right for business customers
CCW will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to deliver the recommendations from our five-year review of the business water market.
End water poverty
CCW will continue to work with the water companies to ensure that their plans are in line with the Water UK commitment to end water poverty by 2030.
Value from the Price Review
CCW doesn’t believe consumers should have to choose between affordable bills and investment in improving services. Through the Price Review process, we will test all the water companies’ draft determinations for acceptability and affordability, and press for any changes we believe are necessary. Our aim is that the water companies’ final PR24 determinations – due in December 2024 – reflect our objectives overall.
Improved overall offer of support
We will carry out a review of the WaterSure scheme.
Customers making full use of the support available
We will increase the number of customers who know that financial support is available from their water company to 50% by summer 2025.
Tariffs that work for customers
CCW will continue to proactively support trials of innovative tariffs by water companies.
Consumer behaviour change
CCW will continue our campaigning work to help people, businesses and communities reduce their water use to alleviate pressure on natural resources.
We will collaborate with the water sector to trial activities aimed at helping people value water and change their behaviour.
CCW will push the industry to act on demand management as an essential pillar in meeting the Plan for Water’s 2050 110 litre-per-day usage target for England, via our ARID proposal, in conjunction with Ofwat’s Water Efficiency Fund.
Better incident management
CCW will pilot in-depth incident assessments in water companies.
We will work with Ofwat to act on and share the insight gained from joint research conducted on incident management across England and Wales.
Acting on customer priorities
CCW will make insights from water sector environmental performance data and customer research more available and useful to government and regulators to put the customer voice more strongly into decision making.
What we cost
CCW’s costs for 2024-25 will increase from 26.3p to 27.2p per bill payer. This is an inflation-only increase. For staff costs, we assumed 4% inflation rate. For other costs, based on Consumer Price Index including Housing (CPIH), we used 2023 November inflation rate of 4.2%.
Read our full Draft Strategy and FWP
You can also read our Draft Strategy and FWP for 2024-25 in Welsh (pdf)