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Self-Supply Community Working to Shape Market

A REPORT ON THE AUTUMN 2021 SELF-SUPPLY USERS FORUM

The Self-Supply Users Forum convened for its autumn session on 9th September 2021, bringing the community of companies that Self-Supply water, and selected guests, together with those that are responsible for governing and operating the water market.

In a largely regulatory-driven session, attendees were updated on government priorities for the market and on a particularly busy consultation period ahead, which will see sweeping changes being made to the market’s governance.

Presenting to the group, Defra confirmed that it wants to see “a strong and vibrant retail market that works for everyone, improves performance and delivers the best value for money for customers”. The Government is looking for this market to deliver net savings of £200m over 30 years, and to play a key part in achieving net zero, a necessarily ambitious target at a very important time.

Changes to industry governance came into effect on 1st September which saw the separation of the Panel into two bodies: a new Strategic Panel responsible for market direction and strategy implementation, and a Code Change Committee concerned with operational and tactical matters.

Trisha McAuley OBE, independent chair of the new Strategic Panel, presented her reflections and experience of the market to date, noting that she had observed a significant gap between what is important to customers and what is discussed by the Panel. “I have a job description which demands that I have an ‘unrelenting focus on customer benefit’ and I like that very much,” she said, before inviting all Self-Supply companies to contact her to ensure that their opinions are taken into consideration to shape a market that works for all.

Ofwat representatives highlighted three incentive schemes that they have introduced to improve performance and address market frictions. The market regulator also confirmed that customer bad debt had exceeded the acceptable threshold for the last two years and is therefore removing price caps to mitigate the risk of systemic water retailer failure. This will mean higher customer bills, although Self-Supply licence holders are protected from these price increases as they deal directly with wholesalers.

While changes to market operations and governance are being worked through, the Self-Supply community continues to outperform all other trading parties and demonstrating what can be achieved. Across the Self-Supply estate, a near perfect market performance score of over 99% was reported in July (compared to the rest of the market at 90%) while long-unread meters, a critical component in effective and resilient water management, were down to just 1.7%.

Closing the meeting, SSUF Chair Neil Pendle, commented: “The most recent market performance scores are an extraordinary result for the Self-Supply community. They set a new benchmark and send a clear signal about what customers expect from their water market so it’s no wonder that all market bodies are in ‘listening mode’. This is a big opportunity for businesses to get their voice heard and to engender a market with an unequivocal focus on customer outcomes.”

WANT TO SEE THE FULL REPORT?

You can view the full report of the Autumn 2021 Self-Supply Users Forum here or you can view reports from previous meetings here.

AUTUMN SELF-SUPPLY USERS FORUM

The next Self-Supply Users Forum will take place on Thursday 2nd December 2021.