Understanding what its customers and stakeholders want and keeping its promises to them is vital in ensuring that Southern Water does a good job.
The Customer Challenge Group (CCG) exists to help that happen – especially when it comes to the business plans Southern Water is making for the next five years.
We’re completely independent of Southern Water and totally on the side of its customers and stakeholders. We advise and challenge the Company on its plans. Then we make an independent report to the industry regulator, Ofwat, at the same time as it decides whether to approve Southern Water’s plans or not.
We are made up of experts, the majority of whom live in the Southern region.
We have three main jobs:
The CCG is chaired by Anna Bradley, continuing her previous role as the Independent Chair of the Southern Water Customer Advice Panel in place since 2014. The CCG's Terms of Reference are here.
Transparency and openness are vital to how we work. The CCG publishes the notes of our monthly meetings as well as an annual report to provide customers, stakeholders and regulators with our assessment of the Company’s progress in delivering its promises. To date we have published three Annual Reports, the first in March 2016 and the second in September 2017. Our most recent Annual Report for 2017–18 is now available.
We also publish advice notes to the Southern Water Board. These confirm the advice and challenges that we have already provided to Company representatives. In 2017 we published:
This resulted in a formal response from the Chairman of the Southern Water Board which addressed all our concerns:
In March 2018, we published our second advice note to the Southern Water Board. This supports its water efficiency programme as we are enthusiastic about the benefits that Target 100, the company's drive to reduce water consumption, will have for conserving water supplies in the South East.
In June 2018, we were delighted to receive a response from Bill Tame, Chairman of the Southern Water Board.
We also published our view to the board on the Bathing Water Enhancement Programme which confirms that Southern Water had met the criteria for selecting the seven beaches to be enhanced to excellent status:
Like all water companies, Southern Water must review the costs of providing water and wastewater services every five years. Key to this assessment is ensuring that customer and stakeholder interests are met, the local environment is protected and that all future investment is planned and costed.
The industry regulator, Ofwat, then looks at its plan and decides what Southern Water's customers should pay for the services it provides. Ofwat will only do so if it is satisfied that Southern Water have understood its customers' requirements and listened to their views.
A key piece of evidence in helping Ofwat decide this is the report published by the CCG. The CCG is independent of Southern Water and has a remit to challenge and scrutinise all actions in this area. Our last report and supporting evidence provided to Ofwat are below:
The current five-year period runs out in 2020, so Southern Water is preparing the next review and plan for the period 2020-25.
The priorities and promises Southern Water made to its customers for the period 2015-20 can be found in its Business Plan on pages 6 and 7.