PR24

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Ofwat has welcomed plans by wastewater companies to reduce harm to river water quality from combined sewer overflows but urged the sector to do more in the remaining years of AMP7 rather than waiting until the start of the next asset management period in 2025. The regulator vowed to take swift enforcement action in response to overflows triggered by unresolved operational and maintenance issues.
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Ofwat has proposed a new approach to monitoring and regulating operational resilience as it takes a longer-term view of sector-wide challenges. The regulator said this will include asking water companies to report on a series of new measures covering asset health, unplanned maintenance and equipment failures that will eventually be consolidated into an “integrated monitoring framework”.
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Ofwat has named David Black as its permanent chief executive after a year in the position in an interim capacity. Black oversaw the PR19 price review, dubbed the toughest the sector has seen, and has been instrumental in tightening financial resilience of water companies.
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The second piece of collaborative work from Ofwat and CCW has revealed billpayer priorities that the regulator said would inform outcome delivery incentives for the 2024 price review. Consumers were most concerned about issues that impact them directly, and wider factors that will affect them sooner rather than further in the future.
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Water sector leaders have expressed concern that the next price control will represent an evolution of the current regulatory regime as opposed to the step change needed to ensure resilience against climate change. Senior industry figures have told Utility Week the regulatory system is “crying out for wholesale reform” to embed a genuinely long-term vision. However, there is scepticism as to whether this can be achieved before 2025 and growing fears that PR24 will be a "missed opportunity".
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As water companies begin the long process of drawing up their business plans for 2025 to 2030, this major new report examines how different the PR24 price control will be. Where are the points of tension likely to arise between regulator and regulated, and where will companies struggle within their own organisations to raise the bar?
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Ofwat chief executive David Black has written to water companies' remuneration committees to urge them to consider executives' performance on pollution and the environment, both good and bad, when setting and awarding bonuses. The regulator has separately issued a consultation on options to simplify how output delivery incentives are calculated for the next price review in 2024.
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Ofwat has set out its expectations for water companies to align their decarbonisation strategies with UK government targets that focus on both operational and embedded emissions. The regulator said the next price review will feature carbon reduction performance commitments.
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Ofwat has set out options to protect customers from water company financing risks as part of a consultation following its financial resilience report last month. The regulator has proposed measures including raising the minimum standards of credit quality, strengthening expectations on dividend payments being linked to performance and increasing transparency.
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Ofwat has said a cultural shift will be needed from water companies in order to move away from producing five-year business plans in isolation. The regulator wrote to businesses setting out expectations for "minimum requirements" on long-term strategies.
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CCW has set out what it believes PR24 should include to reflect consumer wishes and rebuild trust in the sector. It said fast-track status should only be granted to companies that deliver on promises, that consumers need to feel more listened to in the process, and that centralised research should be carried out.
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