Terms of Reference

WATERFUTURE CUSTOMER PANEL

Terms of Reference

Purpose

To provide independent challenge to companies and independent assurance to Ofwat on:

  • the quality of a company’s customer engagement; and
  • the extent to which the results of this engagement are driving decision making and are reflected in the company plan.

What will the panel do?

Review the company plans for customer research and engagement (specifically those for the Vision to 2050 and five year business plan). Provide advice and feedback about the scope and content of the research, engagement and consultation plans.

Review outputs from customer research and engagement/consultation exercises. Assess and challenge companies about how they have interpreted the results of their customer engagement and the degree to which they have reflected the conclusions of the research and engagement in the themes, priorities and outcomes noted in the business plans.

Challenge costs, where the CCG think it is appropriate and in the customers interest (but it is not for CCGs to provide assurance that costs in a company plan are efficient)

Provide challenge on issues that can genuinely be influenced by evidence on customer engagement (not on areas that are for the regulator to determine)

Provide the company with critical appraisal and feedback about the ways in which the company proposes to deliver customer priorities. This will include assessing Company proposals on:

  • outcomes 
  • performance commitments
  •  outcome delivery incentives
  •  affordability and profiling over time of bills.

Consider how the company has balanced any conflicting requirements between different customer groups or between customers and other stakeholders. Identify issues where the company’s conclusions, as reflected in the plan, are likely to cause concern with any particular customer segment.

Report to Ofwat

The CCG will provide an independent report to Ofwat at the same time the company submits its business plan in 2018 to include (but not exhaustive):

  • has the company developed a genuine understanding of its customers priorities, needs and requirements – and where appropriate customer valuations – drawing on a robust, balanced and proportionate evidence base?
  • has the company engaged with customers on the issues that really matter to them?
  • where appropriate, has the company engaged with its customers on a genuine and realistic range of options? For example, in relation to a need to rebalance supply and demand, this might include increasing its own capacity, purchasing water from another company or demand management operations.
  • where appropriate, has the company considered how customers could help co-create and co-deliver solutions to underlying challenges?
  • has the customer engagement been an on-going, two-way and transparent process, where companies are informing their customers as well as soliciting feedback from them? 
  • has the company effectively engaged with and understood the needs and requirements of different customers, including those in circumstances that make them vulnerable?
  • has the company considered the most effective methods in engaging different customers, including those that are hard to reach?
  • has the company effectively engaged with its customers on longer term issues, including resilience, impacts on future bills and longer-term affordability?
  • does the business plan adequately consider and appropriately reflect the potential needs and requirements of future customers?
  • where appropriate, has the company engaged with its customers on the long-term resilience of its systems and services to customers? 
  • has the company effectively informed and engaged with customers on its current levels of performance and how does the compare to other companies in a way that customers could be expected to understand? 
  • has the evidence and information obtained from customers (including through the company’s day to day contacts with customers) genuinely driven and informed the development of the business plan to benefit current and future customers? What trade-offs (for example between customers) have been identified and how has the company proposed to deal with these?

The report will inform Ofwat's assessment of the business plan quality in the risk based review, therefore it is important that the report includes clear evidence to support findings in the report.

The report must include any concerns the CCG process has highlighted regarding tensions between delivery of the proposed plan and compliance with statutory environmental and drinking water quality obligations. This will be particularly relevant of Ofwat's assessment of business plan quality in the risk based review.

It is not for CCGs to approve or endorse a company’s overall plan. It is important that CCGs highlight areas of challenge and disagreement, including how the company has responded to challenges and any areas of outstanding disagreement.

How will the panel operate?

The panel will receive a series of documents and presentations from the company. These will include:

  • research, consultation and engagement plans
  • research, consultation and engagement outputs
  • key themes/deliverables/outcomes from the plans
  • key information from other panels members, such as environmental requirements from the Environment Agency
  • Vision to 2050
  • Final Business Plan

The panel will be invited to provide verbal or written feedback, and will meet to debate and challenge the company on its plans /proposals. Conclusions and actions will be agreed by the panel, documented and fed back to the company.

Each sub group Chair will be responsible for providing reports to the panel based on the detailed work being conducted within each sub group. The panel may wish to receive representations from stakeholder groups at the panel’s discretion.

The panel will be supported by a full time member of staff.

All panel members will have an induction process to company’s history, operation and aspirations, to explain the price setting process and the role of the customer panel.

Correspondence

All correspondence will be channelled through Jennifer Cooke (SWW) and the WaterFuture Customer Panel (WFCP) mailbox (waterfuture@southwestwater.co.uk).

SWW contact details

 Jennifer Cooke

waterfuture@southwestwater.co.uk

01392 443168

 

What will the main outputs of the panel be?

In addition to challenging, providing advice, appraisal and feedback provided to the company, the panel will provide independent assurance/report to Ofwat on:

  • the quality of a company’s customer engagement; and
  • the extent to which the results of this engagement are driving decision making and are reflected in the company plan.

Membership

Companies and CCG Chairs should consider the appropriate membership of the CCG, which will reflect local circumstances and challenges facing residential and business customers as well as the demographic of their local supply area.

Appointment to the panel will be made by South West Water (SWW) in consultation with the Chair, no substitutes or seconds will be admitted unless by prior agreement by the company and the Chair.

The Chair will be appointed first and will be a recognised figure from the South West Water or Bournemouth Water region with a track record in championing customer issues. The Chair should act as an individual and not as a representative of a particular organization or group of customers.

A Deputy Chair will be appointed to support the Chair and as a full member of the panel.

CCG membership will include:

  • Consumer Council for Water
  • Environment Agency
  • Natural England
  • Drinking Water Inspectorate

The following groups are represented at senior level:

  • Local Enterprise Partnerships
  • business representatives
  • community representatives
  • environment representatives
  • representative from a debt-advisory body.

Ofwat will be invited to attend some meetings to give technical input.

Membership will be reviewed on an annual basis at the discretion of the company and the Chair.

The role of the panel will be reviewed upon completion of Final Determinations.

Governance

The panel will meet during the PR19 business planning process. The timing of meetings will vary according to need as milestones in the PR19 process are reached. It is anticipated that meetings will be at least quarterly during 2017 and 2018. Meetings will precede key milestones in order for the panel to preview elements of company plans.

Agendas will be agreed in advance with the Chair and will be sent along with papers by special delivery to panel members preferred delivery address five working days in advance of the meeting.

Minutes of meetings will available to the Chair within three working days of the meeting being held. The Chair has two days to comment before circulation to the wider group, who then has five working days to comment back to SWW. Commercial confidential information will not be included.

South West Water will provide secretariat to support the panel in the development of reports.

South West Water will make available a standard daily allowance per meeting for out of pocket expenses to be called upon when required and when appropriate. The Chair will receive a fixed sum of £25k a year and Deputy Chair £8k a year.

Members will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement in relation to commercially sensitive data. There will be a SWW induction and information pack available on request to panel members.

Membership

Nick Buckland (Chair)

Tim Jones

Barbara Shaw (Previously WSP only)

Steve Meakin

Richard Lacey (previously CVG only)

Deborah Waddell (previously WFCP only)

Orlando Venn

David Heath

Jeremy Bailey

Stephen Bird (SWW)

Iain Vosper (SWW)

Sally Mills (SWW)

Mark Hillson (SWW)

Jennifer Cooke (SWW)

 

30 August 2017