Introduction and overview
It is our duty to provide safe, reliable and affordable water and wastewater services to all our customers, and to protect the environment in which they live.
Last year was testing. Drought and unprecedented heat in the summer required careful operational management.
It has been a tough year for many of our customers, with extremely high energy prices and food bills fuelled by high inflation. The rapidly accelerating cost of living inevitably squeezed their budgets and it made affordability difficult for many, particularly for those in vulnerable circumstances.
We devoted a lot of attention to our range of support packages, which are collectively called our tailored assistance programme (tap), to help our customers afford their bills through very difficult times. We made a number of changes to tap to enable quicker and easier access and to make it available to more people.
Throughout the last year, as in every year, we strived to be the top performing water company in all aspects of our services. We remain the best company on customer satisfaction, water supply quality and resilience. We also managed to improve our performance on supply interruptions and sewer flooding.
However, our environmental performance, as rated by the Environment Agency, fell to two stars – following many years where we had been the leading performer. We have undertaken a root-cause review out of which a pollution reduction plan has been developed to enable us to regain our industry leading position.
We will continue to champion innovation and markets to drive down costs and, as a result, bills. In particular, we are seeking to implement nature-based solutions and partnerships, which would have multiple benefits in keeping costs down, having a lower carbon footprint, supporting nature recovery and improving resilience.
Robust risk management is essential to our business so we regularly look to identify material risks that could impact our ability to deliver the services on which our region depends.
We have a systematic company-wide approach under which risk management reviews progress through a hierarchy of expert colleagues, senior managers and executive directors, overseen by a dedicated Risk Management Group that meets quarterly and reports to the Board.
We are excited to be piloting a brand-new engagement scheme, Community Connectors, through which we aim to transform how we work with communities in our area. We are identifying shared priorities which we can deliver together.
During the year, we undertook an extensive consultation programme with customers, listening to their views to help us understand what matters to them most and what they expect from us.
We are determined that we will meet their expectations.