Annual results 2018

Annual results 2018

Customers and communities | Resilience | Our people | Financing and investment | The future

Andy Pymer - Managing Director

We retain a strong sense of public service across our organisation, which is run by local employees who are customers themselves and members of the communities we serve. 

I am pleased, therefore, that we have had another strong year, exceeding many of our targets and improving our service. Our approach at Wessex Water is one of continuous improvement and, in cases where we have missed targets, we set out our plans for future progress. The investment and performance that we have delivered in the past 12 months, reported here, and our plans for the future demonstrate that we take our responsibilities seriously.

Explaining company direction and performance

To demonstrate how we are delivering for everybody who depends on our services and how we have set our aspirations, our Board has set out its strategy for the period 2020 to 2025.

Read this and how the board has been involved in the development of our plan.

Customers and communities

We continuously ask our customers what they like about what we do and how we can improve. We work hard to deliver what they want –a reliable service that is value for money and provided without fuss.

This year we have been consulting widely on our plans for the future. Our multi-channel Your Say Your Future programme has enabled nearly 80,000 customers to make their voices heard.

We consistently achieve satisfaction ratings above 90% and currently 96% of our customers rate our service as very good or good.

It is important to us that we are able to support all our customers, including those in vulnerable circumstances.

Our partnerships with the debt advice community are thriving and we continue to believe that holistic advice is vital to help customers get back on track and into sustainable payment. Water is an essential resource that should never be limited by ability to pay.

Our teams have launched dozens of new projects and partnerships across our region, including with the Quartet Community Foundation, leading to a 37% increase in the number of people on low incomes who are receiving assistance from us to pay their bills or manage their debt.

More than 500 staff have also completed the Alzheimer Society’s training to understand what it's like to live with dementia and how to turn that understanding into action.

This year we launched our new staff volunteering programme, Wessex Water Force. Staff can use one working day a year for volunteering, equalling around 18,750 hours of support donated every year to charity. This is just one strand of our vibrant communities programme covering community support, health and wellbeing, leisure access and community education. 


Our services need to be able to withstand whatever the future throws at them, whether that be more extreme weather events, cyber attacks or unexpected asset failures.

The resilience of our services is closely tied to the resilience of the wider water catchments in which we operate. We use catchment-based strategies to deal with the source of the problems not the symptoms. Such approaches avoid costly treatment plants and enable innovative ways to improve the water environment at the lowest cost to customers.

We have again increased our catchment-based work this year, including through our associated company EnTrade. We are currently working with farmers at 20 sites to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater sources or to remove pesticide risks from reservoirs

Catchment interventions also achieve wider benefits, such as reduced soil erosion, reductions in other pollutants, improved biodiversity, and will assist in beginning to deliver the government's 25-year environment plan.

The freezing conditions and heavy snowfall in early March resulted in a red weather warning in our region. However, our investment in resilience proved its worth and we maintained supplies to our customers. A significant contribution to this was the completion during the past year of our regional water supply grid.

This £228m seven-year programme of works now enables us to move water across our entire region, greatly increasing the resilience of supplies. It has also enabled us to deal with deteriorating raw water quality by allowing us to blend water, and to reduce abstraction in areas of our region where this was reducing the water flow in sensitive rivers, thus improving the environment.

Our people

Our team at Wessex Water is incredible. They consistently go the extra mile to help customers and improve the environment and it takes a huge team effort to stay at the leading edge of the industry.

As a customer, it is easy to take water and sewerage for granted because it so rarely causes us any problems. That is only possible thanks to the tireless work of our great people, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I thank them for their continued support and commitment.

Our People Programme is in full swing and has already started delivering initiatives to improve the way we look after our employees, enhance our diversity and ensure we have a pipeline of talent flowing through the business to create the leaders of tomorrow. One of our proudest achievements this year is that apprentices and graduates on formal training now represent more than eight per cent of our total workforce. 

Financing and investment

Last year saw a record £250m investment in maintaining and improving our assets and the services that they underpin. Our profit after tax fell £23m to £123m (excluding exceptional items), largely as a result of increased tax charges.

Under YTL’s stewardship we have always been structured and financed in a simple and transparent way that ensures we are financially resilient. Our gearing will continue at under 70% and we will continue to maintain a straightforward corporate structure. We are classed by HMRC as low risk. 

The future

Later this year, we will publish our business plan for the period 2020 to 2025.

Our plan is being built on a new business model requiring the support and involvement of all stakeholders in the water environment. It embraces our public service ethos while capitalising on the opportunities for greater innovation, more market-led solutions and growing competition. All of this requires the trust and confidence of a wider range of potential participants.

Our ambition will run through the plan and show that we view water as a natural resource in which everyone has a stake. It will show how we share value with our communities who, in turn, assist us to meet better outcomes. And it will show that we are transparent, accountable and financially resilient.

It is a plan that will set out our vision, define the challenges that stand in the way, and describe how we will go about delivering long-term environmental standards, make bills affordable for every household and build an exceptional service based on our customers’ convenience, not ours.

This year has been a further step on that journey with achievements to be proud of in many areas.