Business & Economy
Northumbrian Water – changing lives for the better
November 12, 2023
Northumbrian Water has revealed its Business Plan 2025-30, which includes commitments to spending billions of pounds on service improvements and creating and supporting thousands of jobs. Here, Heidi Mottram, the company’s chief executive, explains more.
Last month, Northumbrian Water unveiled its ambitious vision for the future, with the submission of its Business Plan 2025-30.
And this Business Plan, which outlines the outcomes it aims to deliver, and how it will deliver them, is the company’s boldest plan yet.
In fact, it includes the largest investment programme for 30 years and a continued commitment to supporting its local communities.
Here in the North East, a whopping £4.5 billion will be invested across the five years, to help Northumbrian Water prepare for the future and tackle the challenges of extreme weather and climate change.
This figure will help to create 3000 jobs a year across the business, and together with the company’s pledge to continue spending at least 60p of every £1 with suppliers in the region, it is expecting to add around £5.7 billion to the local economy.
Around £50 million will be set aside to repair and replace the ageing network of water pipes and treatment works, as well as £127 million to protect the network from power failures and flooding as it adapts to climate change.
Heidi Mottram, chief executive, says: “As one of the largest businesses in the North East, and in keeping with our commitment to our communities, we believe it’s important to maximise the positive impact of our spending and change lives for the better.
“We know we’re facing tough challenges ahead, so we’ll be investing in state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure, to make sure we’re as best prepared for the future as we can be, and I’m proud that we’ll continue to ensure that 60p in every £1 we spend is spent locally.
“This is our most ambitious plan yet, which will deliver major service improvements for our customers, and we remain dedicated to creating a brighter future for the North East.”
A greener future
Northumbrian Water strives to provide an unrivalled customer service, an approach which has already seen it achieve the top spot in the industry for customer service – a spot that it intends to keep.
So, it’s no surprise that customers have been part of extensive consultation and surveys, to help gather insight into what people value the most and help shape the business’ future plans and proposals.
Feedback has shown it is environmental improvements which top the list of priorities for many, albeit with the caveat that the company must balance this with rising bill costs.
Heidi says: “Water companies have come under fire for polluting rivers and coastal areas.
“While fully understanding the frustrations, it’s important to recognise that companies find themselves in different positions for a variety of reasons.
“We have invested heavily and worked hard to further demonstrate our track record for protecting and enhancing the environment, with the North East having some of the highest standards for bathing water quality, the cleanest rivers and lowest levels of pollution.
“Our care and respect for our natural environment goes far beyond any regulatory requirements, and our plan will completely eliminate serious pollution, preventing sewage from entering rivers, waterways and seas.”
However, with these new investments to support the environment comes the need for the company to increase water bills.
While an increase in bills is never welcome, the money will be used to increase the capacity of the sewer network, help the environment and mean a secure water supply for the future, even in the face of climate change.
Northumbrian Water customers will still pay the lowest water and wastewater bills in England, with the company planning to increase the support available for those struggling to pay their bills to more than £100 million, and doubling the number of households on social tariffs to 193,000.
As part of its promise to eliminate water poverty, no customer will ever need to spend more than five per cent of their household income on their water bill, and anyone who is worried about falling into debt is encouraged to get in touch by visiting www.nwl.co.uk/bill-help
With the need to stay at the forefront of technology essential to deliver efficient and sustainable water services, innovation is a driving factor in Northumbrian Water’s Business Plan submission.
Cutting-edge solutions will help with other initiatives, such as improving drinking water quality and a ten per cent reduction in leakage, lowered risk of disrupted services to ensure water supply is reliable and consistent in the future, and less homes impacted by external flooding.
In a nutshell, the plan is less pollution. Less flooding. Less interruptions. More innovation. More support.
Heidi adds: “Our Business Plan for 2025-30 lays out ambitious goals for upgrading infrastructure, enhancing sustainability and continuing to raise the bar on service quality.
“We aim to emerge as an even more customer-focused, environmentally-conscious industry leader.
“There are certainly challenges, but they present opportunities to create lasting positive change.”
Ofwat will review the plan and, in May/June 2024, will give its draft determination to calculate the company’s price controls.
In December 2024, Northumbrian Water will receive its final determination, where prices will be set for 2025-30.