UK water regulator confirms £51 billion investment to improve services

The UK’s water regulator Ofwat has confirmed a major investment programme to improve services for customers and the environment.

Ofwat has revealed a spending package of £51 billion (€60.1 billion) over the next five years, of which around one quarter will be dedicated to providing resilient services and a better environment in the face of a growing population and climate change.

Customers are to expect a reduction of average bills of around £50 (€59) before inflation. The regulator has secured this by demanding increased efficiently, passing through lower financing costs and promoting innovation.

Ofwat has set new service levels to ensure that the UK’s water companies transform their performance over the next five years. These include:

  • Cutting leakage by 16% – saving enough water to meet the needs of everyone in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield

  • Identifying and helping an additional two million customers who need extra support

  • Investing over £1 billion (€1.18 billion) to protect communities at risk of flooding

  • Reducing pollution into rivers and streams by almost a third

  • Preparing for drier weather by providing £450 million (€530.6 million) to explore new water resources such as reservoirs or moving water from where there is lots to places with less.

The additional investment will provide funding for a new reservoir in Hampshire, as well as the construction of a pipeline connecting water supplies from North Lincolnshire to Essex.

In London, the regulator plans to protect customers by allowing Thames Water to bid for up to an additional £480 million (€566 million) to deliver improved service resilience.

“Today we’re firing the starting gun on the transformation of the water industry backed by a major investment programme to deliver new, improved services for customers and the environment and resilience for generations to come,” commented Rachel Fletcher, CEO of Ofwat. “Now water companies need to crack on, turn this into a reality and transform their performance for everyone.

“They will be investing the equivalent of an extra £6 million each and every day to overhaul services, strengthen their infrastructure and improve our natural environment. And at the same time, customers’ bills will fall by an average of £50 before inflation.”

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