15 June 2017
Embargoed until 07:00
Welsh Water announces £34 million extra funding
for customer investment
· £34 million (2016 - £32 million) extra funding to benefit customers reflecting "not for profit" model
· Benefits include more help for customers struggling with water bills, improved services, better recreational facilities, and promoting biodiversity projects
· Company delivers strong performance across customer service, operational services and financial results
· Customer bills held at, or below, RPI rate of inflation for the eighth consecutive year
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales, has announced how it will invest an extra £34 million following a landmark consultation with customers.
The extra investment is confirmed as the company reports strong financial results and operational performance in the last year and adds to the £32 million extra investment announced last year.
It also follows confirmation earlier this year that average customer bills have been held at, or below, the Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation for the eighth year in a row.
The investment plans follow a landmark consultation with more than 12,000 of its customers, which showed strong support for community projects, investment to secure high-quality services, and funding for social tariffs for our lowest earning customers, while keeping overall bills as low as possible.
Glas Cymru Chairman Alastair Lyons said: "As a company that exists solely to serve our customers we try constantly to drive improvements in the service we provide in order to meet customers' expectations by delivering the best possible service at the best possible value.
"Our not-for-shareholder ownership model enables us to reinvest the profit we make into the business focused exclusively on what is in the best interest of customers. Derived from a strong performance over the year, it is pleasing to see the dividend our model is delivering for our customers rather than being paid away to shareholders."
Communities across most of Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside will benefit over the next 12 months from investment in projects that will now be brought forward as a result of the increased funding. These benefits will include:
· £5 million to support the lowest-earning households by charging them lower bills
· £10 million extra for major replacement of ageing parts of the drinking water pipe network, including the Rhondda Valley, Hereford and Anglesey
· More than £5 million towards extra investment in our visitor centres and recreational facilities, including restoring Cardiff's Llanishen and Lisvane reservoirs as part of a longer term plan to bring them back into public use. We will also use the extra funding to improve recreational access and biodiversity at Llyn Alaw reservoir on Anglesey, Swiss Valley reservoir in Llanelli, and Lliw reservoir in Felindre, Swansea, and to modernise our visitor centres at Llyn Brenig in Conwy and Elan Valley
· £3.5 million extra to reduce the 2,000 blockages a month in our sewer network which can result in flooding and pollution incidents, working with customers to "Stop the Block"
· £5 million for improvements to our water treatment works to make them more resilient to increased threats such as extreme weather
· £5 million to help improve customer service for households and businesses through new online systems, apps and over the telephone services.
The company has committed to keeping its bills affordable and remains on track to deliver a decade of annual average bill increases at or below RPI inflation. A record 70,000 customers already receive help to pay their water and sewerage bills, with low income households who are accepted onto the unique HelpU tariff having their annual bills capped at £190 per year.
The company also published its financial results for the year, confirming £350 million capital investment for the year out of a total of £1.7 billion between 2015 and 2020.
Welsh Water Chief Executive Chris Jones said: "As a company providing one of the most essential public services we want to earn the trust of our customers. We know our customers have high expectations of the services we provide - at the same time they want us to protect and enhance the world around us and keep bills affordable. We are proud that we have continued to achieve this balance over the past 12 months.
"Our not-for-profit ownership model is designed to have our customers' interests at the heart of everything we do. This extra investment shows the benefits of that model for our customers, for the environment, and for the communities we serve."
Notes to Editors
· Average bill increase remains below the rate of inflation for eighth year running. After deducting the effect of RPI inflation, Welsh Water's average household bill is now lower than it was in the year before Glas Cymru took over the ownership of Welsh Water in 2001
· Operating costs of £313 million - £16 million higher than in the previous year (2016: £297 million) reflecting higher contractor costs and an increase in business rates
· Underlying accounting loss of £36 million (2016: profit of £18 million) taking into account higher interest rate costs due to an increase in RPI inflation and increased investment in maintaining our infrastructure
· Gearing - total net borrowings as a percentage of regulatory asset value - down to 56% from 93% in 2001 (2016 - 57%)
· At A/A2/A, Glas Cymru has the highest credit rating in the UK utilities sector
· Capital investment of £350 million (2016: £262 million), which is part of a £1.7 billion investment plan between 2015 and 2020
· 99.99% compliance with drinking water standards measured through over 300,000 tests
· No restrictions on customer water use and leakage below target at 175 megalitres per day (2015: 180 megalitres per day)
· Good overall wastewater treatment works performance: 99% of works fully complied with discharge permits in 2016 (2015: 99%)
· 114 pollution incidents (2015: 112)
· 242 internal sewer flooding incidents (2015: 232)
· A record 50 Blue Flags were awarded to bathing waters, marinas and boat tour operators in Wales (2016: 47 in total)
· Improvements were made in the customer acceptability (taste, odour and appearance) of drinking water and in the number of water supply interruptions but more investment planned to deliver the further necessary improvements
· Around 70,000 household customers already benefit from one of our sector leading social tariffs and our Customer Assistance Fund - more than any other company in the sector
· Ranked top of the water and sewerage companies in the 2016 Consumer Council for Water reports of customer satisfaction for both household customers and business customers
· The number of written complaints received in the second half of 2016-17 has reduced by 43% compared to the first six months reflecting that we have now bedded in procedures for chasing customers for payment and have focussed on a 'right first time' response to any customers issues. We ended the year having received 6,582 written complaints during the twelve months (2015 - 7,128 written complaints). Performance to date this year shows further significant improvement, complaints in the first two months being 70% less than those during the comparable period last year.
· £40 million being invested in our sustainable drainage programme - RainScape - in Llanelli, Burry Port and Gowerton offering an innovative solution to tackle urban flooding
· Investing £24 million in transforming Five Fords wastewater treatment works in Wrexham into an innovative Energy Park - incorporating solar, advanced anaerobic digestion, wind and hydro generation schemes at the site
· £8 million invested in a marine project to undertake a full survey of potential impacts of waste water operations on coastal waters
· Llechryd - £21 million - largest ever investment in the drinking water supply in west Wales - to ensure customers continue to receive a first class supply for decades to come. This involves replacing or cleansing more than 174km of pipe
· Bodelwyddan - £7 million to improve the water cleaning processes at Glascoed water treatment works which serves customers in the Bodelwyddan, Kinmel Bay and surrounding areas in north Wales
· Tynywaun - £9 million in a project to improve the water treatment works which provides safe clean drinking water to around 10,000 customers in the Rhondda Fawr Valley
· Hook & Johnston - £8.5 million in brand new wastewater treatment works and pumping station which will help further protect the environment, reduce flooding and improve river water quality in the area
· Borth main sewer - £1.4 million to replace 1.3km of the sewer network in Borth, mid Wales, which in turn will deliver a boost to the local environment
· Rhymney - £2.5 million in Rhymney Bridge Reservoir which will ensure around 30,000 customers in the Heads of the Valleys area, in south Wales, continue to receive a top quality drinking water supply
· Hereford - More than £5 million to cleanse or replace around 125km of drinking water pipes in north east Herefordshire to ensure a continued first class service to customers.
For further information, please contact Welsh Water's Press Office on 01443 452452
This information is provided by RNS