Lower bills, industry leading customer service and reduced water leakage, are among the ambitious aims unveiled today in Bristol Water’s five-year business plan.
The ‘Bristol Water For All’ plan for 2020-2025, which has been submitted to the economic water regulator Ofwat, comes after two years of consultation, which has seen more than 37,000 customers share their views on what they want from their local water company.
The company has committed to 10 promises to deliver five priorities chosen by customers: affordable bills, excellent customer experience, saving water, improving communities and the environment, and providing top quality water.
Among the highlights of the plan are:
- reducing bills by 5%, meaning the average bills by 2025 will be lower than they are now;
- leakage reduced by 15%;
- aspiring to be the best utility company for customer service;
- double the number of customers receiving support to help them pay their bill;
- reducing customers’ daily water usage by 5% to 135 litres per person;
- no customers will be in water poverty;
- £3m spent improving lakesides for public enjoyment;
- not imposing water restrictions during a drought, but continuing to encourage water saving;
- ensuring more than 540,000 people do not face losing water for more than 24 hours; and
- reducing the impact of water supply interruptions by 85%.
Bristol Water’s Chief Executive Mel Karam said: “I am very proud today to present our ambitious plans for the future of Bristol Water. It’s a plan with customers at its heart, and continues the 170 years legacy of contributing to the wellbeing of all our communities beyond just providing safe and reliable water supplies.
“Our customers asked for an ambitious and challenging plan. Our plan is based on our customers’ five priorities, and we have set out 10 promises to make sure we deliver those priorities. This is not just our plan, it is our customers’ plan too.
“We will invest in the future, and support our local communities, while keeping bills low and affordable to all. The overwhelming majority of our customers, 93%, say this is what they want and need from their local water company which gives us a strong mandate to deliver this ambitious and innovative plan.
“We know we need to improve our performance to deliver the ambitious promises to our customers. We have embarked on a wide ranging transformation programme including new technology, and new ways of working with our stakeholders and supply chain.”
Among the 37,000 comments received were those from Bristol Water’s Customer Challenge Panel. Led by Chairperson Peaches Golding, the panel represents customers from across the region and ensures Bristol Water’s future plan reflect all customers.
Peaches, who is also the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol and a respected business and community leader, said: “This is an ambitious plan, and one that delivers what we as customers want from our local water company. But it hasn’t been plain sailing. The customer group has really challenged Bristol Water to ensure its customer research was robust, that it identified innovative ways to consult and that the plan was stretching enough.
“Our work doesn’t stop here; we will continue working with Bristol Water to ensure it improves its performance and adapts its plans to meet the future needs of its customers.”
Other views came from Bristol Water’s customer forum – a panel of customers from across the region who regularly discuss improvements and help draw up future plans.
Among them is Laura Palmer from Fishponds in Bristol who has been involved in developing Bristol Water’s five-year business plan.
She said: “I feel quite protective over the plan now. I’ve been involved in hearing about the plans and feeding back on them, and finding out about all the really good things Bristol Water wants to do. We’ve been a part of creating those plans, so now I feel really invested in Bristol Water as a company.”
Others include Frome resident Malcolm Elder who said he was “amazed at how much my contribution has made to the whole process” and Pete Mosley from Glastonbury who said that Bristol Water has “touched base with customers to keep up-to-date with what people think.”
Dave Trevor from Knowle said he was pleased to see that Bristol Water wanted to speak to customers about its plans. He added: “The plan has been built by talking to a wide spectrum of Bristol Water’s customers. If I was responsible for planning the way forward for Bristol Water, the current plan wouldn’t be a million miles away from what we have achieved.”
The plan has now been submitted to the economic water regulator Ofwat, which is expected to announce in the new year how much the Bristol Water For All plan will be scrutinised.
Read the full plan on Bristol Water’s new website: www.bristolwater.co.uk/forall