Water companies were required to submit their draft plans to Ofwat by 11 August. Water UK point out that, overall, the companies plan to invest around £27 billion and that changes in the five years to 2015 range from inflation-only to increases of £15 each year. It further states that the average bill in 2015 is forecast to be around £350, a £30 increase over the five years, or approximately 12p more each week each year and indicates that the main themes in the industry’s draft business plans are:

  • differences between them, led by differences in the populations they serve, the history of the infrastructure they operate, and the environment and climate they must manage;
  • detailed research among customers and customer priorities at the heart of business planning;
  • locking in’ current high standards by investing properly now to protect our quality of life in the future (and our children’s and grandchildren’s).

The draft business plans will receive close scrutiny from many quarters, as it appears has also been the case for a number at least in relation to their draft water resources management plans which were published for public consultation in the Spring. Thus, for example, Natural England’s chief executive Helen Phillips has announced that ‘The review of water company prices presents a real opportunity for water companies to deliver environmental improvements to benefit people and wildlife. They need to do more to provide sustainable, high quality water supplies that are more resilient to drought and that safeguard wildlife and the natural environment.’ Natural England indicates that it will be publishing its conclusions on the environmental sustainability of the draft business plans in early September and that ‘it will be looking to the business plans to tackle the challenges of climate change, ensuring that companies develop and adopt less energy intensive processes, and manage water resources in a more sustainable way. Real efforts need to be made to tackle water efficiency in the home and reduce the impacts of water usage on vulnerable wetlands and rivers’.

The water companies draft business plans will be found on their individual websites.