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Regulatory framework for water 'needs to change'

The regulatory framework for the water sector "will need to change" to address common problems faced by companies in both England and Scotland.

Speaking at WWT’s Water Scotland conference, Water Industry Commission for Scotland chief executive Alan Sutherland said it is “easy to be down on industry”.

“It’s always easy for a regulator to just get out a hammer or a stick, and I don’t think that’s very helpful,” he said. “What we’ve got to do is focus on a forward look.

“The whole regulatory framework is going to need to change – and that doesn’t mean lots of markets or any of that, what it will mean is there are some really big common problems that are going to have to be addressed.”

Asked if he thought the industry was doing enough to adapt to a “digital age”, Sutherland replied: “If we say ‘we’re not very good at this’ or ‘we’re analogue rather than digital’ that’s not the right thought.

“The thought we should be having is ‘how are we going to sensibly work together to resolve these problems?’ Because if we don’t do that, then we’re going to be in trouble.”

The comment was in response to one made by Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross when the English water regulator published its cost-benefit analysis for competition in the household retail market.

At the time, Ross said: said: “We are living in an age of retail revolution, but water customers are being left behind. The service offers from water companies can feel behind the curve compared to the innovation customers benefit from when buying other goods.

“The uncomfortable truth is that, when it comes to retail offers, water companies provide an analogue service in a digital age.”

A version of this story first appeared in Utility Week.

Author: Lois Vallely,
Topic: Policy & Regulation
Tags: Scotland , water companies , Innovation , framework , retail


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