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  • Annual results 2017

    Excellent customer service | Resilience | Affordability | Engaged communities | Our people | Financial results | The future

    Andy Pymer

    At Wessex Water we thrive on finding new ways to deliver the best levels of service and environmental performance.

    We provide some of life’s most essential services to millions of people in our area and we constantly look for new ways to deliver these. This year we have been pioneering two new approaches, EnTrade and catchment permitting, both helping us to deliver environmental improvements at the lowest possible cost to our customers.

    Finding better ways to deliver often involves working in partnership with others such as farmers, our customers and our regulators.  I’m very proud that with our great people and by forming strong partnerships with others we have once again achieved both industry leading customer service and environmental performance.

    Excellent customer service

    Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we aim to provide an exceptional service experience that is inclusive and accessible to all.

    We’re one of only 10 companies in the UK to achieve the Institute of Customer Service’s ServiceMark with distinction, the highest level of accreditation available to its 500-plus members.

    We are one of only two water companies to commit to fixing as many reported leaks as possible within a single day – and this year we raised the bar to 70%.

    We are committed to providing excellent quality drinking water and overall compliance in 2016 was 99.95%, and we now generate almost 30% of our total energy needs from the sewage that we process.

    Resilience

    Our services need to continue to be high quality in the face of both acute shocks and gradual stresses.

    This year, by joining up our resources in a water grid we have avoided the need to develop new water resources to meet demand in the next 25 years. The grid also means that more of our customers have the added resilience of an alternative water supply should they need it.

    This year we have also built more resilience into our system by helping customers to use water more wisely. We fitted efficient water devices and fixed faulty plumbing in more than 5,000 homes through our Home Check programme.

    We are continuing our joint research programme with the University of Bath with whom we launched a water innovation and research centre based at the university. This helps to identify opportunities such as using the natural environment to help protect our rivers, lakes and estuaries.

    Affordability

    Affordability is important for our customers and therefore for us as we develop our future plans and proposals. Bills need to be affordable for all our customers.

    We have kept average household bills flat since last year and have continued to work hard to support customers who are financially vulnerable and have difficulty paying. We are now helping more than 27,000 customers to pay ongoing charges and repay debt, as well as offering additional practical help to reduce water and energy bills.

    It is 10 years since we introduced the industry’s first social tariff and this year we introduced a new discount for customers receiving Pension Credit.

    We provide help when and where it’s needed most because we understand that anyone can find themselves vulnerable at any time through illness, unemployment or simply a change in circumstances like a bereavement or divorce.

    Engaged communities

    As a community business and one of the largest infrastructure investors in the region, it is important to us that individuals, households and community groups are engaged with their local water environment and actively support the delivery of our aims.

    We have led the way with ideas like catchment permitting and gone further still by investing in a number of very innovative projects, some of which are industry firsts. In the Poole Harbour catchment we have run the first reverse auctions to encourage farmers to plant cover crops that reduce the amount of harmful nutrients leaking into the water.

    Our management of nearly 300 hectares of land designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) means that the condition of these vital habitats exceeded government targets. Of our SSSIs, 99.5% were assessed as being in favourable or recovering status.

    Wessex Water’s Young People’s Panel brings the views of young adults into our decision making as we plan our future operations. To our knowledge this is the first ‘youth panel’ for this age group that a water company has organised. It is an innovative way of engaging young people, whereby we gain their insights and they gain real-life experience of a company, which also helps them develop their future careers. Some of their ideas are already being taken forward by us.

    Our work with local schools allows us to showcase the work we do and encourage children to engage with the water environment around them.

    Our people

    It takes great people and great teamwork to provide water and sewerage services to nearly three million customers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s why we encourage and reward our employees for their contribution to achieving our aims.

    We seek their ideas and put them into practice, celebrate success at our annual awards and encourage them to go the extra mile with our GEM scheme.

    This year we launched our People Programme, a dedicated programme of initiatives to address current and future strategic people priorities in areas including resourcing, talent management, reward and recognition, future working, diversity and employee wellbeing.

    Our apprenticeship strategy is proving successful for both the company and the local community, offering secure employment opportunities across our region.

    Financial results

    Turnover for 2016-17 increased from £521m to £525m. Profit before tax was £152m (£160m last year) because of the increased costs of meeting new obligations. We achieved all our key financial targets in the year.

    Dividends were declared in accordance with board policy, which at all times is to preserve our investment grade credit ratings and access to new capital.

    We continue to maintain a straightforward corporate structure, pay the expected level of corporation and other taxes and are classed by the Inland Revenue as low risk.

    The future

    We have now published our updated strategic direction document.

    In it we set out what we aim to deliver for customers, wider society and the environment. And we explain our key priorities for the future, based on wide and ongoing conversations with our customers and stakeholders.

    We have also set out the strategy by which we will deliver, focusing wherever possible on forming partnerships with others and harnessing market forces where they can help deliver more effectively and efficiently.

    Our strategic direction is designed to inform both our water resources plan which runs to 2045, and our business plan proposals for service and environmental improvements to 2025.

    This has been a great year for Wessex Water with achievements to be proud of in many areas. We look forward to continuing to innovate to help reduce cost, improve resilience and improve the essential services we provide.

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