Report criticises Anglian Water

AN INDEPENDENT report into the future of Anglian Water has criticised the company for planning to contract a majority of its work out.The controversy surrounds moves to give most of its operations to independent contractors and urges MPs to call both the company and Ofwat, the water industry regulator, to account.

AN INDEPENDENT report into the future of Anglian Water has criticised the company for planning to contract a majority of its work out.

The controversy surrounds moves to give most of its operations to independent contractors and urges MPs to call both the company and Ofwat, the water industry regulator, to account.

The report by the New Policy Institute, Playing With Water, argues that the water company, which supplies water and sewage services for much of Eastern England, will transform the way water services are run in the region in a way unlikely to benefit the public much at all.

Anglian Water, a subsidiary of AWG plc, could well contract out its entire operations and customer service functions by 2007, according to the report.


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However Anglian Water claimed this is not certain.

Colin Brown, asset management director, said: "We are in the process of market-testing our operations. We will only put these operations out to someone who can deal with this better than we can internally."

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Mr Brown added that Ofwat had been kept aware of their proposals from the start and a procurement plan is in the process of being reduced before being sent to the water regulator.

The report states the problem is that the company's core operations are being broken up and contracted out piece by piece.

Rather than being in the hands of a single company, services in the region will be under the day-to-day control of a number of companies, rather than one single authority.

There is already concern that Anglian Water's standard of service to customers is falling.

Ofwat's performance league tables for 2001/02 shows Anglian Water falling from first to sixth place among the ten water and sewage companies and from first to 23rd (last) on water supply and customer service across the industry as a whole. The outsourcing and accompanying financial restructuring has already cost the company £128 million, equivalent to £75 for each of Anglian 1.7 million households.

Mr Brown denied that excessive contracting out would cause problems for Anglian Water.

He said: "We would retain responsibility for all our operations. We already have a lot of external service providers, who provide about a third of all our services, and we remain one of the top water companies in the country."

He conceded that the company had under-performed in a couple of categories last year, but they were on the way to meeting their targets this year.

Mr Brown said: "We are in the best category we can be for five out of the seven categories we are judged in. Ofwat has confirmed it is completely satisfied with our work."

WEBLINK:

www.anglianwater.co.uk

www.ofwat.gov.uk

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