Welsh Water customers handed unique say over spending
A national water company is to be the first UK utility company to give its three million customers the chance to influence how tens of millions of pounds of potential profit should be spent.
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water and sewerage company in England and Wales which doesn’t have shareholders, today launches the nationwide Have Your Say consultation to get customers involved in how it invests in future services.
The 10-week consultation will see customers offered a chance, through the Welsh Water website, to help the company’s Board prioritise how any financial gains – projected to be around £30 million a year – made next year should be split by choosing from a range of options which include:
- Money off their water and sewerage bills
- Extra help for people who struggle to pay their bills
- Investing more in our pipes, pumps and water treatment works to continue providing high-quality services
- Investing now to help save money in the future through renewable energy and innovation
- Supporting educational and recreational projects in our communities
- Speeding up improvements for people who experience repeat problems with their services
As the company is not-for-profit, it doesn’t have shareholders and any returns it makes are reinvested back in the business in a unique setup for the water sector.
Chief Executive Chris Jones said: “This is an unparalleled move to give a real say over how we spend any returns we achieve - and reflects how our not-for-profit status is rooted in working with customers and for customers.
“As we do not have any shareholders, we reinvest money in our network, support our customers and embed innovation to keep our service modern, efficient and at an affordable price. As a company, we are at our best when we are working together with customers to improve all aspects of our work – and that involves genuinely listening to what they think we should be doing to improve our service.
“I hope as many of our customers take part in this unique opportunity to shape how we operate as possible - it will be crucial in helping us make good decisions for the benefit of our customers now - and for future generations.”
Last month, the company announced it was investing an extra £32 million into its services this year, and to help lower-income homes after it recorded its best year in overall performance since becoming not-for-profit in 2001.
It comes as Welsh Water prepares to screen its first television advert of its kind which is specifically aimed at raising awareness of the consultation and the company’s not-for-profit status. It will feature a number of Welsh Water employees and the crucial role water plays in their lives and the communities we serve.
Notes for editors
- Have Your Say is being launched on 11 July and ends on 19 September, in the 15th year since the company was established as a not-for-profit company by Glas Cymru
- It is aimed at building trust with customers, through the chance to express their views on how their national resources should be run
- The not-for-profit model means any returns made can be reinvested back into its network, infrastructure or customers directly - rather than dividends for private shareholders
- Welsh Water’s model has led to 15 years of solid financial improvement and rising operational performance - leading to its best ever results as a not-for-profit company last month
- The first year of the conversation with customers marks a deliberate shift to give them a greater say in how Welsh Water works
- Our research has shown customers want a bigger say in how we operate, and there’s growing trust in the company when they learn about our not-for-profit model, as well as greater support for the use of our gains in long-term investments.