Water industry

I strongly believe that properly regulated private markets are the best way to meet the ongoing needs of water customers and the environment. I do not support re-nationalising the water industry and I am glad that the Government has no intention of doing so.

Since privatisation, the sector has seen £150 billion of investment, thanks to which consumers are now 5 times less likely to suffer from interruptions to their water supply. I am also pleased that Government and regulators continue to put pressure on the water companies to do more to enhance the environment and provide customers with the reliable and resilient service they expect. As a result, water companies now plan to spend £50 billion on improving services, while reducing customer bills on average by 12 per cent over 2020-25.

The economic regulator, Ofwat, is currently scrutinising the water companies' business plans to ensure they go far enough to deliver on their commitments for customers and the environment over the next price review period 2020-25.I can assure you that my ministerial colleagues will hold them to their promises. Although companies could go further still, I am pleased that Ofwat has indicated that some water companies will implement welcome bill reductions for customers and increase investment to address supply interruptions and environmental enhancement. I am also pleased that plans include commitments to deliver significant projects across England to protect the environment.

I believe that reforming industry governance and empowering the regulator is the best way to secure a water industry that works for everyone, including both customers and the environment.