Yorkshire Water to review all customer accounts to ensure lowest tariff

Yorkshire Water will review all customer accounts to ensure they are on the cheapest tariff. It is all part of its promise to offer a personalised service which is affordable for all after submitting its PR19 business plan to regulator Ofwat.

The plan, which has been worked on for the last two years, has focussed on understanding customers individual lifestyles and how they shape what customers want, need and expect from their water company.

That feedback has led the firm to double the amount of money it contributes to affordability schemes and go further by working with the likes of Rotherham Citizens Advice to help people with debt make a fresh start.

Disposable income in Yorkshire is on average 12% less than other areas in England and that 10% of its customers are at risk of falling into debt; this is higher than the national average of 7%.

Data will help Yorkshire Water ensure customers are on the correct tariff to fit their lifestyle, help those who may need extra support and make sure all customers are paying the right amount for their water bills.

To do this, the firm will review every account every year and proactively contact customers who it believes will benefit from being on a different tariff.

Data will also play a major role as the firm looks to provide a personalised service for its customers, investing in initiatives such as chat bots and digital self-service and notifications to ensure ease of contact and to keep customers well informed on what affects them. By offering increased options for customers to contact the firm, Yorkshire Water forecasts, telephone queries to reduce to 50%.

The company’s plans are underpinned by transparency, with a commitment to publish all data sets and all details behind each plan. Allowing external companies access to information to help improve the firm’s service, as well as customers who can also see how their money is spent.

It is that openness and collaboration with customers has paid off, with 86 per cent supportive of the plan.

Liz Barber, Director of Finance, Regulation & Markets at Yorkshire Water, said: “As a monopoly provider of an essential public service we must demonstrate that we provide an excellent service for our customers whilst keeping their bills low both now and into the future. We will do this by investing in innovation, markets and sustainable thinking.

“This process has already begun and we have so far invested £260m to improve leakage, supply interruptions, pollution and internal sewer. It is our aim to achieve an upper-quartile performance against these four measures as soon as possible.”

Almost 20 per cent of all planned spending for the period will be focussed on ensuring environmental improvements, with a particular focus on the removal of phosphorus from river water. This will involve working closely with the Environment Agency and upgrading 80 waste water treatment works before 2025.

Cost efficiency is also a key element of the 2020-2025 business plan, with improvements already made by embracing new bioresources markets. Here, a major market testing exercise has taken place that combined with new technology will help to reduce bio-resources costs by 23 per cent.

Following the plans submission, Ofwat will spend the next few months assessing companies plans providing companies with their final determination in early 2019.