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Welsh Water announces record investment and expanded support for customers during COVID-19 response

5 June 2020

  • Record £456 million investment in water and wastewater services in last 12 months
  • Households and business customers now receiving extra help with bills
  • 1,200 employees continuing to work in communities to maintain essential public service
  • £300,000 Community Fund to help foodbanks and community projects
  • Customer demand for water rises more than 20% to over 1,000 million litres a day

Welsh Water has confirmed record investment of £456 million in its water and wastewater services over the 12 months ending 31st March 2020. It is set to invest a further £366 million over the coming year as it continues to play its part in protecting public health – part of a new five-year £1.8 billion investment plan to 2025.

Welsh Water also confirmed it has introduced emergency help for thousands of customers as part of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The company’s Annual Results, published today, show continued strong performance through a challenging year as its key workers continue to provide an essential service to the three million people it serves.

The not-for-profit company has confirmed that it has arranged payment holidays for over 5,000 household customers in financial need and temporarily suspended payments for approximately 45,000 businesses which have had to close due to the Government’s current social restrictions.

Welsh Water, which serves over three million people across most of Wales and some adjoining parts of England, is also providing £11 million support over the next 12 months to its lowest-earning customers through its social tariffs - support that is helping nearly 130,000 customers with their bills.

Welsh Water responded to the coronavirus outbreak by successfully moving 2,200 employees - including its entire customer contact centre – to home-working in just a few days in mid-March. This enabled Welsh Water to continue providing its services and also support for customers, especially those in vulnerable circumstances who may be struggling to pay their water bills.   However it still has nearly 1,200 frontline workers working out in communities to keep its essential services going.

As a company owned on behalf of its customers, Welsh Water’s customers recently ranked it highest for their satisfaction with the services it provides in the first of a new nationwide survey by Ofwat of all water companies in England and Wales. This follows Welsh Water becoming the first ever water company to secure a place in the top 50 of a national survey on customer satisfaction carried out by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

With customers staying at home and given the prolonged dry weather over recent weeks, Welsh Water has also seen demand for water increase by 20%. The company is seeing demand rise to around 1,000 million litres a day – equivalent to 400 Olympic swimming pools – with each household consuming over 50 litres more a day than is usual for this time of year. The company is asking customers not to waste water whilst also increasing its own leak detection work.

Glas Cymru Chairman, Alastair Lyons, said: “As a not-for-shareholder business, Welsh Water exists to serve and benefit its customers – and our role has never been more important.

“These current circumstances are amongst the most challenging we have ever faced. We are proud to play our part in not only providing additional support for household and business customers during these difficult times but also ensuring customers still receive the best services possible from our key workers.

“I want to thank everyone in Welsh Water who has worked so hard during the current crisis and over the past 12 months. We have had to manage extreme weather events and preparations for a No-Deal Brexit whilst also finalising our Business Plan for the 2020-25 price control.  Despite all this, we have reported strong financial and operational results for the past year, and I’m confident that we will build further on this with the investment we plan to make in the next five-year investment period.”

Welsh Water Chief Executive, Peter Perry, said: “This unprecedented situation has meant that we have had to change fundamentally how we work in order to safeguard our employees and I am very pleased that we have been able to achieve this to help play our part in maintaining our essential services and protecting public health.

“We have also seen changes in how our customers use water – with more people working from home, and changes in use compared to when businesses are operating normally and fewer people are at home during the day. We continue to do what we can to help protect water resource levels but would also  ask customers to only use as much water as they need – particularly to ensure they remain safe and healthy – and not to waste it.

“We all have our individual roles to play, but what we have achieved over recent weeks – and over the last 12 months as we faced some extreme weather -  is the result of everyone at Welsh Water working together for a common purpose. We deliver by everyone playing their part so that we give our customers the best possible service and continue to earn their trust.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Welsh Water has also supported customers and communities by increasing its Community Fund threefold to £300,000. Over £100,000 has already been given to foodbanks which are part of the Trussell Trust in Wales since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnerships have also been agreed with Business in the Community Cymru and the Community Foundation in Wales, Hereford and Cheshire.

Susan Lloyd-Selby, Operations Manager for Wales at the Trussell Trust, said:  “As the impact of the coronavirus outbreak unfolds across Wales, more and more people are needing a food bank’s help. Food bank teams are working tirelessly to ensure food banks are able to remain open and can respond to the crisis. We’re really grateful to Welsh Water for their generous donation to each food bank in our network that is open in Wales – this support will help food banks continue to offer vital emergency food to people who can’t afford the essentials right now.”