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Ofwat pledges £13bn for infrastructure investment in the UK

Ofwat has finalised its price review for 2020-25 by confirming a major investment programme to improve services for customers and the environment. Ofwa...

Daniel Brightmore
|Dec 18|magazine16 min read

Ofwat has finalised its price review for 2020-25 by confirming a major investment programme to improve services for customers and the environment.

Ofwat has revealed a spending package of £51bn for the next five years. A quarter of this, around £13bn, will be investment dedicated to providing resilient services and a better environment in the face of a growing population and climate change.

Customers will also see a reduction in average bills of about £50 before inflation. The regulator has secured this by demanding greater efficiency, passing through lower financing costs and promoting more innovation.

Ofwat has set new levels of service so 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 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 to explore new water resources such as reservoirs or moving water from where there is lots to places with less.

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Ofwat Chief Executive, Rachel Fletcher, commented: “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. 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 £6mn 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.”

The £13bn of additional investment – equivalent to £6m every day for five years – will, among other things, see a new reservoir built in Hampshire and the construction of a pipeline connecting water supplies from North Lincolnshire to Essex.

Ofwat recognises that Londoners deserve a better level of service. The regulator is stepping in to protect customers by allowing Thames Water to bid for up to an additional £480m to deliver improved service resilience. To access this, they will need to pass a series of tests and Thames’ investors will also need to provide substantial additional funding.