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Customer trust and satisfaction in water companies falling in latest Ofwat and CCW research

Customer research published yesterday by Ofwat and consumer watchdog CCW reveals that the vast majority of people do not trust water companies to do what’s right for the environment.

Less than a quarter (23%) of respondents said they trust their water provider to do what is right for the environment down from 31% in 2021. Additionally, just 21% believe that their water provider acts in interests of the environment a decrease from 27% in the previous study.

Satisfaction with the quality of water services has dropped to 58% from 65% in 2021, while satisfaction with wastewater and drainage services has fallen to 49% from 56% in the initial study.

Our customer research reflects that water company performance on the environment is simply not good enough. We have pushed companies to take urgent action to cut sewage discharges, and we are currently running our biggest ever investigation into six companies on sewage spills.
Ofwat has also gained new powers that it will use to drive improvements in water companies’ customer service performance, including taking enforcement action which could result in significant fines.

The findings also underscore the importance of the need for a transformative change in the water sector, so that it delivers better outcomes for customers and the environment. This is why Ofwat is focused on transforming the sectors performance.

Ofwat is currently considering around £100bn of expenditure for the next price control and will be looking to ensure it delivers a step change in environmental performance that represents value for money for consumers.

Lynn Parker, senior director for casework, enforcement, and customers at Ofwat said:

This study underscores a concerning trend of declining satisfaction and eroding trust among customers of water companies, especially when it comes to their environmental performance. This breakdown in public confidence is of the companies own making, reflecting their own short falls in performance.


However, we are now beginning to see the water industry respond in a meaningful way to the challenges we and the government have set. The water companies have produced plans that will provide an additional £100 billions of expenditure to reduce pollution, improve biodiversity, and deliver better customer service. We are currently examining these plans to make sure they maximise the environmental benefits and deliver value for money for customers.

Jenny Suggate, Director of Policy, Research & Campaigns at CCW said:

Customers’ diminishing trust in water companies is not going to be reversed until people begin to see and feel a marked improvement in both the service they receive and the state of the environment. There is a growing perception that the water industry cares more about profit than the service it provides. One way more companies could help change that view is by using some of their own money to bolster support for those struggling with their water bills.

The rise in people contacting their water company with concerns over their bill underlines why the industry must not turn its back on the commitment it made five years ago to end water poverty by 2030.

The consumer watchdog will also be reviewing water companies’ vulnerability strategies to ensure customers can get the help and support they need.

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