FWC represents the interest of its members in facilitating fairness in the way that competitive water connections are offeredFWC is a not-for-profit organisation which draws on volunteered time so that it can support worldwide provision of safe water services
News and Updates
Below is a summary of key news items and updates relating to self-lay across England and Wales. Some of these report what Fair Water Connections has been doing through lobbying for change, meeting with key stakeholders (including Ofwat and water companies), responding to consultations etc. Also included is information about what others are doing to improve the competitive new water connections market.Also see our Regulation page for details of what the Ofwat, the economic regulator for the sector has, and has not, being doing.Ongoing 1.Briefing FWC members about the imminent changes to water mains and service charging.2.A FWC priority is to get Ofwat to recognise that they need to use their proposed D-MeX (Water Company Developer Services Incentive, which could be in place in April 2020) to drive changes in water company behaviour and open up competitive water connection provision, particularly in the South East (an area where water companies do little to promote the concept of self-lay to developers). This calls for a meaningful Guaranteed Standards scheme and Ofwat to move away from thinking they can reward companies (possibly up to £1 million annually) just on the basis of surveyed customer satisfaction levels.3.Helping SLPs to challenge paying any more than £20 administrative charges on each new water service, as this was the average amount Ofwat has recently determined is reasonable for water companies to charge. (Some companies charging much more than the Ofwat confirmed figure, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water thinking it reasonable for SLPs to pay £132 on each connection!). [Link to Ofwat determination].4.Getting a new self-lay adoption agreement re-written so that it fairly balances water company sanctions and SLP freedoms to deliver work for their (developer) customers. This fitting alongside the introduction of the new (standardised) CoP (which FWC instigated) and companies are now starting to use. [Link to new CoP document].5.Ensuring, where company engagement allows, that the new local (company specific) charging arrangements, which apply from April 2018 (but need to be published by February 2018) aid self-lay provision and genuinely (as called for in the Ofwat Rules) “promote effective competition for Contestable Work”. Note - this will result in significant changes to how new mains and services will get charged and asset allowances paid. So something that SLPs need to closely follow. Notes - Company charging arrangements need to comply with Charging Rules issued by Ofwat - Envisaged that charging will separate site specific works (downstream of the Point of Connection) from Network Enhancements (done by the water company to upgrade their systems and funded through Infrastructure Charges) - Current focus is on connections in England as the Welsh Government have yet to give any direction to Ofwat).Earlier Matters1.Much FWC input with Defra, Ofwat and water companies themselves have fed into the way that the new charging rules are being advanced. This does not mean that FWC is comfortable with all that is being progressed but this is what the regulators have decided to implement.2.Apr 16 - FWC welcomes the publication by Ofwat of their Information Note (IN 16/06). This covers general expectations about the minimal assurance terms a water company may seek in a self-lay agreement with accredited Self-Lay providers. [Link to IN 16/06]3.Feb 16 (with the same true for data published in May 16) - FWC concerned that claimed Developer Services performance improvements are not helping SLPs (or their developer customers). Read our case study for our analysis.Particular concerns FWC has with the water company data (published by Water UK)•The limited number of companies who show any self-lay activity; and,•Falling performance against self-lay targets; and,•Significant deterioration in 'terms issued' performance (where in-house provision can pass through to self-lay); and,•Inconsistencies in self-lay volumes (passing through subsequent stages); and,•That the self-lay element in 'headline performance' is minimal given that 94% of the work volumes relate to in-house activities.4.Nov 14 - Water UK publish guidance on allocation and calculation of costs for self lay of water mains (their ref IGN 4-05-01). [Read Water UK Document]. Whilst FWC welcomes this 'best practice' guidance it is disappointed that:-•many water companies have yet to adopt this guidance, and•the guidance does not cover service connection charging (where there exists a range of charges, covering a wide variety of activities).