ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP

The partnership’s terms of reference are as follows


  • 1. Wessex Water engages extensively with customers and stakeholders, both in its day-to-day business and for specific programmes of work, such as preparation of its five-yearly business plan as part of a regulated price review.
  • 2. For the last regulated price review, known as PR14 and covering the five years from April 2015 to March 2020, Wessex Water consulted over 24,000 customers and 90 stakeholders, including customer representatives such as the Consumer Council for Water, Citizens Advice and Which?. At the centre of this engagement was the Customer Scrutiny Group, which brought together a range of stakeholders to scrutinise Wessex Water's 2015-20 business plan proposals and to the ensure the plan truly reflected our customers' aspirations for service improvements and ability to pay. The Customer Scrutiny Group was supported by four liaison panels: customers and community, environment, business customers, services and planning.
  • 3. Wessex Water has implmented a new format for its stakeholder liaison for 2015-2020 and in preparation for the 2019 price review.
  • 4. The Wessex Water Partnership will be the successor body to the Customer Scrutiny Group. This will be supported by a new independently chaired catchment panel and a new futures panel. We will also continue local engagement with annual stakeholder forums including local councillors.
  • 5. The Wessex Water Partnership has three key roles:
    1. to monitor and report on Wessex Water's delivery of all aspects of the final regulatory settlement from the perspective of its customers, including scrutinising and assessing its delivery against its outcomes and measures of success
    2. to provide advice and challenge Wessex Water on any proposal to share outperformance with customers over and above the requirements of the regulatory settlement
    3. to provide advice and challenge the company on policy areas such as customer engagement, customer service, affordability, tariffs and the company's preparation for the next price review.
  • 6. The partnership will also assess the impact of any substantial fortuitous financial effects during the period, and assess and challenge any claim made by the company under the IDoK process
  • 7. The partnership will scrutinise and assess Wessex Water's delivery against all outcomes and associated performance commitments set out in the business plan 2015-20, namely:
    • affordable bills
    • excellent service for customers
    • reduced leakage
    • highest quality drinking water
    • improved bathing waters
    • rivers, lakes and estuaries protected
    • sewage flooding minimised
    • resilient services
    • reduced carbon footprint.
  • 8. The partnership will also assess the company's overall eligibility for rewards or penalties according to the final regulatory settlement having taken into account the views of the catchment panel on environmental outcomes.
  • 9. The partnership will advise and challenge the company with regard to
    • day-to-day service provided to customers and the company's customer offering; policy matters and standards of service; accessibility to services; measures to improve affordability and assist low income households; public health; pricing and billing; and the company's community initiatives
    • its annual tariff proposals including any changes in social tariffs
    • its engagement and research plans for the business plan 2020-25
    • its interpretation of customers' views and how they are reflected in its longer-term strategy and business plans
    • on an annual basis, whether the company has benefitted from a substantial favourable effect that may constitute a reason for an adjustment to price limits under the relevant licence condition
    • any proposal by the company to reopen price limits within the period under the IDOK provisions of the licence
    • any proposal by the company to share outperformance with customers over and above the requirements of the regulatory settlement.
  • 10. The partnership will publish its advice to the company board on whether performance commitments are being met and whether any financial rewards or penalties are due.
  • 11. The previous Customer Scrutiny Group had full access to the company's Reporter, from an independent engineering consultancy firm. In addition, it had a member with a similar technical background responsible for report writing recruited by the chair. Similar arrangements have been put in place for the partnership and will provide suitable funding for this, but will in addition bolster this access to independent expertise on regulatory and corporate finance when reviewing items which may require the reopening of price limits.
  • 12. As the lead body in Wessex Water's new engagement model, the partnership will report to the Wessex Water board. This may require the chair of the partnership to attend board meetings or the board's performance committee once a year or as required.
  • 13. The chair will also report to a designated non-executive director of Wessex Water on day to day matters, progress of the Partnership and any other matters that may arise.
  • 14. All panel members will agree to a code of conduct and will be required to attend meetings.
  • 15. The chair will be the only paid post with a remuneration of up to £20,000 per annum. Other members will not be paid but instead a charitable donation will be given to any 'not for profit' or charitable organisation represented on the partnership of around £5,000 per annum where relevant. In addition, members' expenses will be paid.
  • 16. An annual report will be published by the partnership outlining its discussion topics, major conclusions and its assessment of Wessex Water's progress in delivering its performance commitments.
  • 17. Minutes of partnership meetings will be published on the company's website.
  • 18. The partnership will comprise no more than 16 core members who have a key interest and in some cases a statutory remit, in the water sector and/or customer issues.
  • 19. Members will represent the interests of domestic customers and include regulators, consumer groups, advisory bodies and charities representing specific customer groups. They may have a local or national focus.
  • 20. Although the exact list of members is open to agreement, we expect it to include representatives of the Consumer Council for Water, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, the Environment Agency, consumer bodies such as Citizens Advice, the Money Advice Trust, StepChange, Age UK, Advice UK, Which?, Institute of Customer Service, USwitch, etc, as well as other more specialist interest groups such as the RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss and Mind. It will also include business customer representatives such as Chambers of Commerce or Federation of Small Businesses. Some of the organisations represented will be some of those represented on our previous Customer Scrutiny Group and liaison panels.
  • 21. The members themselves will be nominated by these organisations
  • 22. The partnership will also contain the chair of the catchment panel to help it form a holistic view of the company's performance on environmental issues.
  • 23. Members are appointed for five years, unless membership is terminated earlier.
  • 24. The partnership will meet around three times a year, likely to be March, June and October, although this might become more frequent at key points in the price control life cycle.
  • 25. Executive and non-executive directors of Wessex Water, along with other staff may attend partnership meetings as observers, but will not be members of the partnership.
  • 26. All secretariat duties will be undertaken by Wessex Water who will also provide appropriate meeting facilities.
  • 27. The company's updated plan contains detailed calculations for each of the performance commitments. As these are necessarily technical calculations the company would also provide the partnership with independent technical resources to support their assessment of the company's performance.
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