Welsh Water announces £34 million extra funding for customer investment
- £34 million (2016 - £32 million) extra funding to benefit customers reflecting “not for profit” model
- Benefits include more help for customers struggling with water bills, improved services, better recreational facilities, and promoting biodiversity projects
- Company delivers strong performance across customer service, operational services and financial results
- Customer bills held at, or below, RPI rate of inflation for the eighth consecutive year
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales, has announced how it will invest an extra £34 million following a landmark consultation with customers.
The extra investment is confirmed as the company reports strong financial results and operational performance in the last year and adds to the £32 million extra investment announced last year.
It also follows confirmation earlier this year that average customer bills have been held at, or below, the Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation for the eighth year in a row.
The investment plans follow a landmark consultation with more than 12,000 of its customers, which showed strong support for community projects, investment to secure high-quality services, and funding for social tariffs for our lowest earning customers, while keeping overall bills as low as possible.
Glas Cymru Chairman Alastair Lyons said: “As a company that exists solely to serve our customers we try constantly to drive improvements in the service we provide in order to meet customers’ expectations by delivering the best possible service at the best possible value.
“Our not-for-shareholder ownership model enables us to reinvest the profit we make into the business focused exclusively on what is in the best interest of customers. Derived from a strong performance over the year, it is pleasing to see the dividend our model is delivering for our customers rather than being paid away to shareholders.”
Communities across most of Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside will benefit over the next 12 months from investment in projects that will now be brought forward as a result of the increased funding. These benefits will include:
- £5 million to support the lowest-earning households by charging them lower bills
- £10 million extra for major replacement of ageing parts of the drinking water pipe network, including the Rhondda Valley, Hereford and Anglesey
- More than £5 million towards extra investment in our visitor centres and recreational facilities, including restoring Cardiff’s Llanishen and Lisvane reservoirs as part of a longer term plan to bring them back into public use. We will also use the extra funding to improve recreational access and biodiversity at Llyn Alaw reservoir on Anglesey, Swiss Valley reservoir in Llanelli, and Lliw reservoir in Felindre, Swansea, and to modernise our visitor centres at Llyn Brenig in Conwy and Elan Valley
- £3.5 million extra to reduce the 2,000 blockages a month in our sewer network which can result in flooding and pollution incidents, working with customers to “Stop the Block”
- £5 million for improvements to our water treatment works to make them more resilient to increased threats such as extreme weather
- £5 million to help improve customer service for households and businesses through new online systems, apps and over the telephone services.
The company has committed to keeping its bills affordable and remains on track to deliver a decade of annual average bill increases at or below RPI inflation. A record 70,000 customers already receive help to pay their water and sewerage bills, with low income households who are accepted onto the unique HelpU tariff having their annual bills capped at £190 per year.
The company also published its financial results for the year, confirming £350 million capital investment for the year out of a total of £1.7 billion between 2015 and 2020.
Welsh Water Chief Executive Chris Jones said: “As a company providing one of the most essential public services we want to earn the trust of our customers. We know our customers have high expectations of the services we provide – at the same time they want us to protect and enhance the world around us and keep bills affordable. We are proud that we have continued to achieve this balance over the past 12 months.
“Our not-for-profit ownership model is designed to have our customers’ interests at the heart of everything we do. This extra investment shows the benefits of that model for our customers, for the environment, and for the communities we serve.”