Consumer Council for Water
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Water complaints in right direction

Please call to book Chief Executive Tony Smith for media interviews –  available for interviews Wednesday 16 September.

Regional and Wales spokespeople will also be available.

Media contact: Amy Weiser on 0121 345 1006 or 07778 160808

The Consumer Council for Water revealed today (Wednesday 16 September) that overall complaints to water companies in England and Wales dropped last year by nearly 15 per cent. A few companies had significant improvements in complaint figures as they recovered from problems in previous years, bringing the industry average down.

Companies with a considerable drop in complaints included Severn Trent Water, with 40 per cent fewer complaints, and Thames Water, with nearly 27 per cent fewer complaints on the previous year’s figures. Southern Water’s complaints dropped by 48 per cent but it still had a high number of complaints in comparison to other companies.

Other water companies continued to receive relatively few complaints, such as Yorkshire Water, Wessex Water, Portsmouth Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Hartlepool Water, Cambridge Water, Veolia Water East (formerly Tendring Hundred Water) and Veolia Water Southeast (formerly Folkestone and Dover Water).

However, there are still companies that need to improve complaints figures. Last year complaints to United Utilities rose by over 36 percent, and United Utilities, Southern Water, South East Water and South West Water had the highest number of complaints for the number of customers they serve (complaints per 10,000 customers).

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We have pressed water companies with poor complaint numbers to improve their performance, and it is encouraging to see the response from many companies. For example, complaints to Severn Trent Water and Thames Water both dropped for a second year in a row.

“Customers are beginning to tell us that they can see a difference in service. Of those who needed to get in touch with their water company last year, 81 per cent told us they were happy with the way the contact was handled. The year before that figure was 71 per cent. At the same time, nine out of ten customers tell us that they are satisfied with the service provided by their water company.
 
“The figures show a step in the right direction, but it is not good news for all water customers. We are still particularly concerned with South East Water’s complaint figures. For a smaller company that only provides water, and is not involved in the sewerage side of the business, South East Water’s complaint figures are very poor, and they have been for several years.

“We will continue to press for improvements, and for all companies to put customers and their priorities first and foremost. We are also pressing Ofwat to improve the incentives for water companies to provide better service.”

Last year the Consumer Council for Water helped customers secure £2.5 million in compensation and rebates from water companies, 40 per cent more than the year before. Since 2005 the water watchdog has also encouraged companies to share their profits with consumers, worth an extra £135 million in benefits through extra investments or reduced prices for consumers.

Ends

Notes for editors

1. The full report is available at www.ccwater.org.uk.

2. The following tables show the number of complaints direct to water companies, and the number of complaints each company received for every 10,000 customers. Using complaints per 10,000 customers compares companies more evenly, because it takes into account the number of customers each company serves.

To view the tables visit
http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.aspx?ReleaseID=406662&NewsAreaID=2&ClientID=276

 

Complaints to water companies

Water & Sewerage Company

2007-08

2008-09

Difference

% Change

United Utilities

31,920

43,506

11586

36.3

Northumbrian Water

7,333

9,259

1926

26.26

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

10,628

12,596

1968

18.52

Yorkshire Water

5,255

6,077

822

15.64

Wessex Water

7,773

8,021

248

3.19

South West Water

9,446

9,206

-240

-2.54

Anglian Water

25,891

24,951

-940

-3.63

Thames Water

52,174

38,204

-13970

-26.78

Severn Trent Water

45,710

27,099

-18611

-40.72

Southern Water

48,328

25,125

-23203

-48.01

Water Only Company

2007-08

2008-09

Difference

% Change

Hartlepool Water

59

93

34

57.63

Sutton & East Surrey Water

357

552

195

54.62

Veolia Water Three Valleys

4,763

5,861

1098

23.05

Dee Valley Water

348

407

59

16.95

Bristol Water

3,058

3,561

503

16.45

Veolia Water Southeast

142

165

23

16.2

Veolia Water East

140

162

22

15.71

Portsmouth Water

175

197

22

12.57

South Staffordshire Water

2,866

3,087

221

7.71

Essex & Suffolk Water

3,979

3,791

-188

-4.72

South East Water

11,440

10,006

-1434

-12.53

Bournemouth & West Hampshire

759

592

-167

-22

Cambridge Water

453

314

-139

-30.68

Total Complaints Received

272,997

232,832

-40,165

-14.71



Complaints per 10k Customers

Water & Sewerage Company

2007-2008

2008-2009

United Utilities Water

97

132

Southern Water

248

128

South West Water

122

118

Anglian Water

91

87

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

71

83

Northumbrian Water

59

74

Thames Water

94

68

Wessex Water

64

66

Severn Trent Water

109

64

Yorkshire Water

23

26

Water Only Company

2007-2008

2008-2009

South East Water

169

114

Bristol Water

61

71

South Staffordshire Water

52

55

Essex & Suffolk Water

51

49

Veolia Water Three Valleys (Formerly Three Valleys Water)

38

46

Dee Valley Water

29

34

Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water

38

30

Cambridge Water

35

25

Veolia Water Southeast (Formerly Folkestone and Dover)

19

22

Veolia Water East (Formerly Tendring Hundred Water)

19

22

Hartlepool Water

14

22

Sutton & East Surrey Water

13

20

Portsmouth Water

6

7

Industry Average

91

80

The Consumer Council for Water

1. The Consumer Council for Water was set up in October 2005 to represent consumers in England and Wales.

2. The Consumer Council for Water costs each water customer 25p per year.

3. The Consumer Council for Water has gained £135 million from water companies in reduced prices and extra investments.

4. The Consumer Council for Water has to date taken up over 60,000 consumer complaints about water and sewerage companies, and secured £6 million in compensation and rebates for customers.

5. The Consumer Council for Water is a non-departmental public body reporting to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Assembly Government. It has a committee for Wales, and four committees in England.

6. Our website is www.ccwater.org.uk.

For public enquiries to the Consumer Council for Water, please contact via email on enquiries@ccwater.org.uk, our phone number, 0845 039 2837, or via minicom on 0121 345 1044.

 

Contacts

 
NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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