Providing greater public value: Ofwat publishes seven guiding principles for water companies

Regulator Ofwat has summarised responses to its December 2020 discussion paper on public value in the water sector, outlining seven guiding principles that can support water companies in providing greater public value for customers, society and the environment as a whole.

These are as follows:

Principle 1: Companies should seek to create further social and environmental value in the course of delivering their core services, beyond the minimum required to meet statutory obligations.

Principle 2: The mechanisms used to guide activity and drive decision-making should facilitate the delivery of social and environmental benefits that are measurable, lasting and important to customers and communities.

Principle 3: Companies should be open with information and insights on operations and performance.

Principle 4: Delivery of public value outcomes should not come at greater cost to customers without customer support.

Principle 5: Companies should consider where and how they can collaborate with others to optimise solutions and maximise benefits, seeking to align stakeholder interests where possible, and leveraging a fair share of third-party contributions where needed.

Principle 6: Companies’ public value activities should not displace other organisations who are better placed to act.

Principle 7: A company should take account of its capability and circumstances in scoping the delivery of greater public value.

With COP26 fast-approaching principle 1 couldn’t be timelier. Principle 5 is also interesting as in the ‘next steps’ section of the same report there’s a focus on ‘co-development and co-creation’.

Forging partnerships seem to be an increasingly common trend in the WEM industry, with the recent news that United Utilities and The Rivers Trust have formed the first UK water company-NGO partnership to tackle to big challenges facing rivers in North West England seemingly confirming this idea.

Rivers Trust CEO, Mark Lloyd, summed it up well when he said: “The challenges facing the water environment affect everyone in society and cannot be solved by any organisation on its own.We all contribute to the problems, but we can all be part of the solutions if we work together to develop a shared understanding, consensus about an action plan and agreement about how to meet the costs.”

CIWEM also has its own Business Partnership Programmes which works to develop the skills and create the profile organisations need to build their place in the industry, as a responsible and sustainable operation. Find full details here.

We’d also love to hear your thoughts on which of the seven principles most resonate with your organisation. Join the conversation on the @CIWEM Twitter account.

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