Survey Reveals Declining Public Trust In UK’s Water Suppliers


A damning survey that will come as another blow to the UK’s private water sector has revealed that the majority of the British public does not trust the country’s suppliers to protect the environment.

The consumer survey, commissioned by Ofwat and the consumer watchdog Consumer Council for Water (CCW), was conducted late last year when 2,399 UK adults in England and Wales were asked about their opinions on the country’s suppliers.

Worryingly, just 23 per cent of those surveyed said they trust their water companies to “do what’s right for the environment,” marking a nine per cent drop from 31 per cent two years ago.

The research also revealed that satisfaction with the quality of water services has fallen to 58 per cent from 65 per cent in 2021, while at the same time, satisfaction with wastewater and drainage services has dropped to 49 per cent from 56 per cent.

Speaking about the findings, Ofwat said the results of the survey highlight the importance of the need for systematic change within the water sector, to ensure the system “delivers better outcomes for customers and the environment.”

As reported by the Water Magazine, Jenny Suggate, Director of Policy, Research and Campaigns at CCW commented on the survey, who said: “Customers’ diminishing trust in water companies is not going to be reversed until people begin to see and feel a marked improvement in both the service they receive and the state of the environment.

“There is a growing perception that the water industry cares more about profit than the service it provides. One way more companies could help change that view is by using some of their own money to bolster support for those struggling with their water bills.”

Environmental Concerns

While the news of public dissatisfaction will no doubt come as a blow for the country’s water companies, it’s hardly a surprise many don;t feel the environment is being protected.

Just last year, a group that campaigns to stop water companies from releasing sewage into our waterways claimed that the amount of people getting sick after swimming in river or sea water almost trebled in 2022.

In its annual report, Surfers Against Sewage said 1,924 people claimed to have come down with “sewage sickness” between October 2022 and September 2023.

This came after regulator Ofwat forced seven companies to pay £114m back to customers due to “poor performance” after targets on spillages and leaks were missed.

Elsewhere, Severn Trent Water was fined over £2m for discharging huge amounts of raw sewage at treatment works in Stoke.

The supplier was prosecuted by the Environment Agency after the discharge into the River Trent from Strongford Wastewater Treatment Works (WTW) near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, between November 2019 and February 2020.

The case was brought before magistrates in Cannock, Stafford back in February, with District Judge Kevin Grego concluding that there was “a reckless failure by the company to have in place and implement a proper system of contingency planning”.

The judge opted to fine the company £1,072,000 and £1,000,000 plus costs of £16,476.67 and a victim’s surcharge of £181, which won’t have done much to repair broken trust for its customers in Stoke.

Customers Of Severn Trent Water

If you’re one of the people who isn’t the most trusting of the country’s suppliers right now, it’s important to remember that as a business owner, you’re fully within your right to switch suppliers.

As a business owner, the service you can expect to receive from your supplier, as well as their commitment to protecting the local environment, is paramount. If the company you choose to pay for your water service isn’t meeting these basic obligations, perhaps it’s time to go elsewhere!

This is why it sometimes pays to switch business utilities, especially as a business owner. If you own your own company then bringing down the cost of your outgoings is one of your primary concerns, and so is knowing you’re partnered with a reliable supplier that’s keen to look after the environment.

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