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Steps to improve infrastructure delivery for housing

Following an initiative from government late last year, the water sector was quick to establish a scheme to compare companies’ performances relating to delivery of infrastructure. The second performance report was published in October. Related further initiatives include a new industry system for measuring customer satisfaction, planned for launch in 2016, and working with other interested parties on the overhaul of the charging regime, made possible by the Water Act 2014.

In January, the established Developer Services scheme will publish its third quarterly report, and we are pleased to note that companies have been working hard to narrow the performance gap between the worst and best performers.

The next stage in this work will be for company reporting to be audited. The scope of this audit is currently being discussed with interested parties, including representatives of developers and of self-lay operators.

Early in 2015 water companies began a related strand of work, to create a new system for measuring customer satisfaction with water companies’ performance in developer services. This qualitative report will complement the quantitative analysis and is planned for launch in 2016.

Perhaps more significant than these welcome initiatives is the prospect of a complete overhaul of the rules relating to charging for new infrastructure. The existing regime (within Water Industry Act 1991) has come under heavy criticism from a range of parties, and under the Water Act 2014 the opportunity has arisen for reform.

Water UK organised workshops around this in September, and industry representatives will participate in the work that Defra is organising to develop guidance to shape the new charging regime that Ofwat is responsible for implementing.

There is no single view within the water sector as to what the new regime should look like, and Water UK is working with its members to contribute expertise with the overall aim of improving the delivery of new housing.

Developer Services – background and latest report