Appointments, Policy & regulation

Ofwat chief executive to quit water for telecoms

Cathryn Ross, who yesterday announced that she will step down as chief executive of Ofwat, is to take up a senior position at BT, according to The Telegraph.

She is understood to have been appointed head of regulatory affairs at the telecoms giant which has had a notoriously combative relationship with Ofcom in recent years.

Ross’s surprise announcement comes as the sector prepares for its next price control, for which the regulator published its draft framework last week.

In her time as Ofwat chief executive, Ross has made her mark by leading increasingly tough negotiations with water companies on their business plans. Among other things, PR14 introduced new metrics and expectations for customer service and customer engagement as well as a fast-tracking system for outstanding business plans. It also began a pinch of the weighted average cost of capital for water companies.

All of these elements will be further strengthened in PR19, which Ross has warned will be a “tough” price control for water companies who “fall short” in their ambition to improve customer service, resilience, affordability and innovation.

The opening of the non-domestic water market to competition is another key sector milestone achieved under Ross’s watch. She has also led significant internal restructuring at the water regulator.

Responding to the announcement of Ross’s departure, Ofwat chairman Jonson Cox said she “has been a transformational leader for Ofwat and the sector”.

He said she has created “a dynamic and leading-edge regulator, effective in driving change across the water sector and putting customers first. We are sorry to see her go and wish her every success in her new role”.

Ross will remain with Ofwat until the end of the year. “I look forward to finalising the PR19 methodology before I leave,” she said yesterday.

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