UK utilities set for radical shake-up, predicts outgoing Ofwat boss

Nov. 22, 2017
There will be a radical shake-up in how customers buy utility services, predicts outgoing Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross...

LONDON, UK – The water sector and other utilities are “ripe for a revolution” and there will be a radical shake-up in how customers buy utility services.

That’s a prediction from regulatory Ofwat’s outgoing chief executive, Cathryn Ross, who was speaking this week at the Water 2017 conference.

She believes that in the coming years, customers would no longer have multiple providers for home services and utilities. Instead, they would work with just one company which would take care of all the administration and much of the decision making when it comes to their bills and contracts for water, energy, broadband, home insurance and home emergency cover.

In a speech looking ahead to the next price review period, which runs from 2020-2025, Ross predicted this profound change will be shaped by specialist companies emerging and using leading edge data analysis to better understand customers’ needs and priorities and find the best combination of services at the right price.

Ross said: “Imagine a world in which you don’t even know who your supplier of water and wastewater services is, or who supplies your energy, or broadband, or maybe even your home insurance and emergency cover. Because you have a contract with an intermediary who takes care of all that for you.

“You may well have given them the ability to turn some bits of your home infrastructure on and off to manage demand and reduce costs, because this will enable you to get a better deal. To my mind this means the water sector, indeed all utilities, are ripe for a revolution.”

However, Ross also warned that should such changes emerge, regulators will need to change radically too.

She challenged regulators “to stop thinking in our silos about water bill payers, energy bill payers, telecoms bill payers, insurance customers and start thinking about ‘home services’ customers. Or better still human beings, with busy lives and competing demands on their money and time.”

It was in July this year when Ofwat said Ross, who was appointed in October 2013, would be leaving for a senior position in the private sector “not connected with the water industry”.


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