UK WATER INDUSTRY RESEARCH

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Topic catalogues

Topic catalogues list all of our reports published within each topic area / category with abstract and price. Please select a category to download the catalogue.

Customers

UKWIR maintains and is constantly adding to, an extensive library of reports which are deliverables from our research programme. Reports Catalogues are created to illustrate the reports that have been produced in each of UKWIR's research topic areas. These reports are freely available to UKWIR subscribers and they may be purchased from the UKWIR website by non-subscribers

 

Customers

Customer debt

Welfare Reform and Its' Impact on the Collection of Water Charges

Ref: 15/CU/04/8            Price: £270
ISBN: 1 84057 775 4

Since 2010, the Government has embarked on a package of welfare reform which aimed to make the benefit system fairer, more affordable, and to reduce poverty, worklessness and welfare dependency.

The reforms have been wide ranging and impacted on many households in receipt of benefits and tax credits. With the advent of Universal Credit the whole structure of welfare payments is also changing.

This report examines the implications of the welfare reforms for water companies and their  customers, in order to help identify appropriate strategies water companies may take in adapting to them.

Specifically the report provides details of the welfare reform programme, impact, implementation and future roll out. It investigates customer views on how the welfare reforms have affected their ability to pay water charges, and assesses the impact of reforms on water companies and their customers through an analysis of changes in customers' payment behaviour, debt and arrears. 

Forecasting Future Levels of Water Debt

Ref: 13/CU/04/7            Price: £50
ISBN: 1 84057 664 2

The rising level of debt associated with domestic households in England and Wales is an increasingly serious issue for the water industry. The aim of this project has been to present the evidence on debt, to discuss the factors that are likely to drive future levels of debt and to develop realistic forecasts of how future trajectories of water debt might evolve. A history of June Return statistics provides the basis for the development of debt forecasts, introducing debt penetration and debt intensity parameters to measure the current position and to predict future arrears over a 10-year horizon. Household-level impacts are explored, evaluating the affordability risks associated with future disparities in earnings growth and cost of living. Outcomes are presented for the industry as a whole and for each of the twenty-one water companies in England and Wales.

Debt Collection Performance and Income Deprivation

Ref: 09/CU/04/6            Price: £21
ISBN: 1 84057 531 X

This report examines the relationship between water company unrecovered revenue (debt) and income deprivation at the small area level. Debt has become a growing problem for water companies in the UK, rising by 40% over the last 5 years. It has been postulated that one reason for the variation in levels of debt between water companies is the variation in levels of socio-economic deprivation around the country. Data obtained at the individual property level from 13 participating water companies covering 80% of the population of England and Wales was analysed against information on income deprivation. A very strong relationship between debt and deprivation was demonstrated but other factors relating to variations in the billing and revenue recovery processes also played a part. The report makes recommendations to support improved revenue recovery in the industry. This is seen as particularly important in the context of the prevailing economic conditions in the UK in 2009.

Customer Targeted Debt Management

Ref: 07/CU/04/5            Price: £24
ISBN: 1 84057 465 8

UKWIR commissioned Accent to conduct research into intelligent claiming and the DWP Water Direct scheme. The research comprised desk research, an all-company survey, depth interviews with representatives of nine companies and research among customers who had been, or were, on the DWP Water Direct scheme.
As customer data improves, companies are increasingly able to use litigation in a more targeted and more effective way. However, improvements could be made, primarily in the way the courts and water companies work together and the degree to which landlords, particularly council landlords, can be encouraged to share occupancy information.
Customers would like the DWP Water Direct scheme promoted more widely and extended to include Incapacity and Sickness benefits and customers in receipt of qualifying benefits but without arrears. There is scope for the industry to work with the DWP to improve the exchange of customer information to increase uptake.

Quantifying Different Types of Water Industry Debt

Ref: 06/CU/04/4            Price: £33
ISBN: 1 84057 399 6

Despite the recent focus on debt and good practice in the area of debt management by water companies, debt within the sector is high and predicted by many to increase further in the next five years as prices increase. This research builds on the previous year's research into socioeconomic and demographic effects and for the first time provides an analysis of the value of debt attributable to different groups of debtors. Changes from the previous year's results are analysed and reported on. In addition some new and important areas of debt analysis are undertaken to improve understanding of why particular groups of people are indebted and what can be done to reduce the current and future debts.

Water Industry Debt - Socioeconomic and Demographic Effects

Ref: 04/CU/04/3            Price: £21
ISBN: 1-84057-348-1

The project was initiated to provide factual information on the profile of industry consumer debtors to inform discussions with Government, the Regulator, Consumer, and Industry Groups.

The basis of the analysis was domestic household customers with balances outstanding as at 31st March 2004. 14 water companies supplied information, including all the Water and Sewerage companies in England and Wales.

The analysis included;

  • geodemographic profiling at a postcode level, and
  • analysis at a Household and Individual level.

he analysis identified that industry debtors were more likely to have significant other debt and a history of indebtedness; that a significant proportion of the debt was associated with recent relocation; that the younger generation were less likely to pay than older generations and that single people were over-represented compared to couples.

Water Industry Debt - Minimising the Problem of Non-Payers

Ref: 04/CU/04/2            Price: £15
ISBN: 1-84057-326-0

This is a qualitative research project comprising focus groups and depth interviews among customers with water debt of more than 12 months, in seven locations in England and Wales. It also includes customers considered to be 'vulnerable to debt' (eg those with low literacy levels, long-term disabilities or mental health problems, single parents, long term unemployed) and depth interviews with Citizens Advice debt counsellors and The Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The research builds on work in 2003 for WaterVoice and Ofwat among customers with water debt of three months' standing, which identified three debtor types:

  • Why should I pay?
  • Poor Money Managers and
  • Strugglers.

It expands each of these into two sub-categories to reflect the wide range of circumstances which give rise to the more entrenched attitudes to water debt.

The findings highlight some unique issues for the water industry and makes recommendations on the method of contact considered most appropriate for each debtor type.

Water Industry Debt - Current Trends and Good Practice Approaches

Ref: 03/CU/04/1            Price: £28
ISBN: 1-84057-312-0

In recent years the water industry has seen rising levels of outstanding debt, rising numbers of customers in debt and rising costs associated with collecting debt. The government has yet to be convinced that the water industry has levels of debt and trends of increasing debt that are substantially different to other utilities / industries operating in the UK. This report is the result of quantitative and qualitative research designed to inform the debate on the unique position of the water industry and to provide guidance to companies on good practice approaches to debt management. The study tracks the relative position of the water industry in terms of the levels and trends in debt, particularly since the ban on the disconnection of supply was introduced. An analysis is undertaken of the collections and recovery practices of large-scale lenders and the utilities sector in order to ascertain whether the water industry is adopting ‘good practice’ in collection and recovery so far as regulatory constraints and scale economies allow.

Customer Liaison

The Future Role of Customer and Stakeholder Engagement in the Water Industry

Ref: 15/CU/03/3            Price: £30
ISBN: 1 84057 793 2

This is the report from the UKWIR study on the possible approaches to customer and stakeholder engagement in water industry price reviews. It has four main parts comprising: a review of the strengths and weakness in customer engagement during the recent PR14 process; a look at the lessons that emerge from experiences of customer engagement in price reviews in other sectors; an assessment of the preparatory steps that the sector can take to put customer and stakeholder engagement on the firmest possible foundations ahead of the water sectors next price review, PR19; and an outline of three possible models for the conduct of this review.

Post PR14 Customer Engagement, Communications and Education

Ref: 15/CU/03/1            Price: £200
ISBN: 184057 757 6

The most recent Price Review (PR14) was different from those before it, in that companies were required to demonstrate that customer views were taken into account in the development of their business plans.

This project was commissioned to enable the industry to take stock, collectively, and evaluate companies' programmes of customer engagement encompassing pure research, wider consultation approaches and customer communication via education programmes and campaigns.

The report includes 6 principles of good practice and guidance from companies in developing and undertaking customer engagement in the future as well as for CCGs in reviewing these activities.

Customer Education Strategy for Wastewater - Report

Ref: 15/CU/03/2-1            Price: £50
ISBN: 1 84057 776 2

This study identifies the key aspects that underlie an effective and sustainable customer education strategy for wastewater, and uses the findings to create full, coherent and sustainable guidance for the development of such strategies.

The study explores the need for, and benefits of, education in four key areas: sewer misuse, misconnections, labelling and flood mitigation. For each of these in turn, the key target groups for education are identified along with the most effective way of engaging with them. 

The research programme involved consulting with water companies and other industries about current and recent education initiatives which they have undertaken; consultation with tradespeople, manufacturers, retailers, trade bodies, professional membership bodies and training bodies about misconnections and labelling; and an international literature review on similar education initiatives which have been undertaken in the UK and overseas.

Customer psychology

Understanding the customers' relationship with distribution pressure

Ref: 16/CU/02/15            Price: £400
ISBN: 1 84057 810 6

This report examines the understanding and expectations that customers have about water pressure and investigates those factors that influence the expectations. In particular it explores how customers are affected when water pressure is lower. It also reviews communication practices between water companies and customers around the issues of pressure, both in terms of short-term responses to problems that arise, and through longer-term planning and consultation initiatives, identifying aspects of good practice and clarifying the linkages between pressure management strategies and customer engagement strategies.

How to Change Customer Behaviour to Encourage Greater Use of 'Self-Service' Facilities

Ref: 13/CU/02/14            Price: £49
ISBN: 1 84057 702 9

As part of a growing emphasis on the quality of customer service, UK water companies are looking to increase the adoption of new technologies and self-service methods of interaction.

This report include a review of current practices of self-service migration from both the water industry and other sectors and identifies previously successful marketing strategies. These strategies were tested with water bill payers using a programme of qualitative and quantitative research and the results were used to produce guidance for water companies to consider when developing their own self-service strategies.

The industry guidance includes a segmentation analysis which profiles customer groups according to likelihood to adopt self-service and recommended migration strategies. The guidance also provides easy-to-apply advice on how to embed self-service into customer behaviour after the initial migration.

Smart Metering in the Water Sector Phase 3: Making the Case

Ref: 12/CU/02/13            Price: £18
ISBN: 1 84057 657 X

This study is the third phase of UKWIR's programme on water smart metering (WSM) in the UK and it builds on the previous parts of the programme. It focuses on providing the water industry as a whole - water companies, industry bodies and regulators - with an in-depth understanding of the incremental costs and benefits associated with WSM, over and above those of traditional metering solutions.
This report, in conjunction with the accompanying Excel-based model provides a framework to develop robust business cases for WSM roll-outs. The cost-benefit methodology is described in detail. Guidance on how to use this methodology is also provided, specifically: advice on which WSM scenarios could be considered; which alternative scenarios the WSM scenarios could be compared against; and an overview of the key issues and pitfalls that should be considered in the analysis.

Best Practice for National Communications - Responsible Use of Sewers: Report on Customer Research

Ref: 12/CU/02/12            Price: £15
ISBN: 1 84057 632 4

This project explored the best methods for communicating with customers about the responsible use of drains and sewers and how to improve awarenes of items that are/ are not suitable for flushing. Understanding reasons why misuse of sewers currently occurs, and barriers/ motivations to change, is key to this aim. Research consisted of three stages:
1. Qualitative focus groups with domestic customers and depth interviews with Food Service Establishments provided insight into current behaviours and rationale; motivations/ barriers to change; and views on different information channels.
2. UK representative quantitative survey, provided quantifiable evidence of customer behaviour and attitudes.
3. Campaign testing in a hotspot area determined, through pre and post campaign surverys, whether there was any effect on residents' behaviour/ attitudes.
Results provide guidance on appropriate campaign types, content and style. Benefits to industry of better customer engagement, leading to behaviour change, include reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction.

Customer Behaviour and Water Use - A good practice manual and roadmap for household consumption forecasting

Ref: 12/CU/02/11            Price: £29
ISBN: 1 84057 631 6

Forecasting household consumption is a key element of water resource management plans (WRMP); however there remain gaps in understanding the factors of influence especially relating to customer behaviour.
This report recommends good practice in household consumption forecasting for WRMP. It develops further the existing micro-component approach and emphasises that the level of analysis should be linked to the nature and extent of any supply-demand imbalance. A stochasitc approach is also described for future use when the corresponding stochastic WRMP elements are developed.
The report also provides a roadmap of the research required to understand and quantify the influence of behaviour and behaviour change on household consumption. Such research will provide wider stakeholder benefits, particularly with regard to the effect of interventions to modify customer behaviour and the types of customers most likely to respond to them.

Smart Metering in the Water Sector Phase 2: Building the Case by Understanding Customer Expectations and Benefits

Ref: 12/CU/02/10            Price: £21
ISBN: 1 84057 619 7

This project explored customer support and expectations for Water Smart Metering (WSM) and the value customers place on specific features of WSM.
The research consisted of three key elements: secondary analysis of the outputs of Ofgem's Energy Demand Research Project to identify whether any of the customer behaviour evidence was directly transferable to the water sector; deliberative workshops to understand existing views and expectations among smart meter 'informed' and 'uninformed' customers; and a nationally representative quantitative survey of 'informed' and 'uninformed' customers to quantify existing views and expectations, and gain willingness to pay (WtP) valuations for smart metering. The results demonstrate a number of customer-perceived benefits of WSM and the study provides recommendations on factors for the industry to consider further should it choose to develop the case for implementing WSM.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure: Best Practices for Water Utilities

Ref: 12/CU/02/9            Price: £35
ISBN: 978-1-60573-162-9

This report was produced by the Water Research Foundation as the output from a project jointly sponsored by WaterRF and UKWIR. The purpose of the project was to assess the state of the art and gather the information required to make informed judgements about advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Developing a business case for AMI may include an economic analysis of key technology and deployment alternatives, financing considerations and assessment of the non-quantifiable benefits and costs as well as project risks. This report provides information to support these analyses, and advice on best practice for procurement and implementation. It also includes some pilot studies and descriptions of case studies in the US and UK.

Smart Metering in the Water Sector Phase 1: Implications of Energy Smart Metering and Future Research Priorities

Ref: 10/CU/02/8            Price: £12
ISBN: 1 84057 576 X

Smart water meters could fundamentally change the relationship the water industry has with its domestic and business customers. They facilitate improved engagement with customers, deliver efficiencies within the water businesses, support wider social and environmental objectives, and collect revenue.
A revolution in Energy Smart Metering (ESM) is underway and this could act as a catalyst for smart water metering. This UKWIR project has taken a wide water industry view of the opportunities arising from the ESM programme and smart water metering. As a result priorities have been identified in the areas of customer research, network operations, costs and benefits, technology and the supply chain.

Reduced Flow Devices - Impact and Use in the Household Sector

Ref: 10/CU/02/7            Price: £21
ISBN: 1 84057 572 7

Household water debt has risen by over 50% in the last five years adding around £12 to the annual bills of paying customers. This is partly due to a hard core of debtors who continue to evade payment, despite best efforts to recover money from them. Water debt is considerably higher than in the energy sector, where  there are other incentives for customers to pay their bills.
Reduced Flow Devices (RFDs) have the potential to limit the flow of water to individual households. They have been used in other countries as a debt management tool but are currently not permitted under UK legislation. This report examines whether there are any fundamental barriers to the potential use of RFDs in the UK. It looks at the technology available; reviews the worldwide experiences in the use of RFDs; examines the potential public health and hygiene concerns, and propoese principles and guidelines that should be adopted if RFDs were to be permitted in the UK.

A Review of the Case for More Intelligent Water Metering

Ref: 10/CU/02/6            Price: £25
ISBN: 1 84057 556 5

Water metering and communications technology have developed significantly over recent years and may offer an important option for addressing supply-demand pressures, whilst meeting expectations for efficient and high quality customer service.
This report has been developed against a backdrop of the planned roll-out of 'smart' metering for domestic energy customers in Great Britain by the end of 2020. Without a similar national mandate for water industry smart metering, companies must develop policies appropriate to their specific situation and the expectations of customers and other stakeholders.
Extensive consultation with water companies, regulators and other stakeholders has resulted in a comprehensive review of current experience and future potential for more intelligent water metering, tariffs and related customer service technology.
The insights gained have been distilled into a simple but comprehensive, cost benefit assessment framework, which can assist in the evaluation of policy options.

Future Methods of Charging for the Water Industry

Ref: 09/CU/02/5            Price: £22
ISBN: 1 84057 528 X

This study was undertaken in collaboration with representatives from the water companies, DEFRA, Ofwat and CCWater. The methodological approaches and analysis developed for this study were also subject to peer review.
The aim of the study was to estimate the household bill and debt implications (for water companies) of alternative charging methods for water and sewerage services in England and Wales. As well as presenting analysis of a range of alternative approaches to unmetered and metered charging (20 in total), the study has developed a spreadsheet based modelling tool for each water company. This will allow on-going analysis of a range of charging methods. Access to the Family Resources Survey has facilitated the development of these tariff modelling tools.
The report provides details on the methodologies used to underpin the tariff modelling tools in the areas of household socio-economic and demographic characteristics, household water demand, household optional metering and household debt related to water. The report also presents findings and analysis of the main unmetered and metered tariff options considered during the project.

Acceptability of Drinking Water - Willingness to Pay

Ref: 08/CU/02/4            Price: £30
ISBN: 1 84057 486 0

This project was commissioned as part of an industry-wide comprehensive research programme, to undertake a large quantitative study using Stated Preference (SP) techniques to derive customers' willingness to pay for improvements in aesthetic aspects of their drinking water. The willingness to pay values were fed into a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) framework developed as part of this study in order to substantiate and support pricing plans to finance possible improvement initiatives nationally. Individual companies now have the opportunity to take this generic model and develop it into their own company-specific CBA framework.

Acceptability of Water to Customers

Ref: 07/CU/02/3            Price: £19
ISBN: 1 84057 433 X

An approach to formulating interventions and seeking funding to address aesthetic aspects of drinking water quality is considered. These aspects include discolouration and particles; taste and odour; and hardness. Guidance is given on good practice for recording, categorising and analysing customer contacts. A checklist of potential causes of observed problems and of interventions to address these is compiled from industry expertise. Finally, an appropriate methodology for justification of investment to improve aesthetic water quality is described, using customer willingness-to-pay surveys and cost-benefit analysis. The report includes the outcome of consultation with Regulators and a survey of the industry with regard to aspirations and current practice.

The Sociology of Water Use

Ref: 07/CU/02/2            Price: £15
ISBN: 1 84057 430 5

This project involved 1) exploratory analysis of existing water company data sets on household consumption and 2) developed a series of five workshops entitled: Traces of Water.  The report first, presents the results of re-analysing and interpreting domestic water consumption data and then, second, overviews the five topics of the Traces of Water series: The water consumer, Water and everyday life, Infrastructures of Consumption, Water stresses and the consumer, and, finally, Imagining the Future.

Critical Review of Relevant Research Concerning the Effects of Charging and Collection Methods on Water Demand, Different Customer Groups and Debt

Ref: 05/CU/02/1            Price: £15
ISBN: 1 84057 400 3

Appraisal of evidence from both the 1988-92 National Metering Trials and limited later studies confirmed earlier work suggesting average demand reductions resulting from domestic metering in England & Wales in the 10%-15% range. Peak demand effects have been found to be greater, as were changes to more sophisticated volumetric tariffs (increasing block, seasonal).

Further work is needed to predict better the effects on household charge burdens of switching to various volumetric tariffs and of the tariff rebalancing which accompanies optant metering.

The report recommends that investigations should be mounted into possible links between charging, tariffs and payment factors and the growth of both the numbers of debtors and outstanding debt.

Customer Psychology in Relation to Operational Practice 1998/ 99

Ref: 99/WM/09/1            Price: £15
ISBN: 1 84057 171 3

The research, which involved both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, examines how customers determine their levels of satisfaction with the service from their clean water supplier, with specific attention paid to that company’s operational practice and the role of its frontline staff. It determines the level of influence, both real and perceived, that network managers and their staff have on their customers’ satisfaction with their supply and service. It looks at the practices and procedures that are utilised by network managers and their staff to raise levels of customer satisfaction and those practices that reduce customer satisfaction. Specific recommendations for action based on the findings are discussed.

Measure of customer service

Supply Pipe Ownership - The Customer View

Ref: 14/CU/01/8            Price: £350
ISBN: 1 84057 748 7

This report documents findings from independent research which looks at customers' views of supply pipe ownership, the extent to which they feel industry adoption is necessary and whether they are willing to pay for it.

A robust programme of qualitative and quantitative research was undertaken with householders and businesses (from SMEs to large businesses) across England and Wlaes. Private landlords, housing associations amd local authorities were also consulted. In addition, desk research was undertaken which directly fed into the design of the main research programme materials.

The report provides some valuable insights into customers' views and makes recommendations on what companies can do now to educate customers on the current supply pipe arrangement and their current supply pipe repair policies; provides guidance on what customers are willing to pay should the transfer happen and outlines the service customers will expect to receive.

Alternative SIM Measure: Implementation Plan

Ref: 14/CU/01/7            Price: £250
ISBN: 1 84057 739 8

The objective of this report was to research whether an alternative Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) survey could be introduced for the period 2015-2020 that supported Ofwat's aim to increase water company focus on improving customer satisfaction. The project defined and tested a simpler SIM survey for capturing customer views on the qualitative aspects of customer satisfaction. It also assessed the feasibility of replacing the existing quantitative performance metrics with a single metric of the total number of customer complaints. The project concluded that the revised survey would achieve Ofwat's objective, would also be less costly to operate and would provide a good comparative metric across water companies. A single qualitative metric of 'Customer Experience' should be used for the comparative SIM. The use of a quantitative metric of 'total complaints' was supported for the comparative SIM altough further investigation into the definition and recording of complaints was recommended.

Options for Refocusing SIM Towards a Measure Based Only on Consumer Satisfaction and Perception

Ref: 12/CU/01/6            Price: £28
ISBN: 1 84057 655 3

The objectives for this research project were to: analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the current Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM); identify, evaluate and compare other qualitative and quantitative options; and recommend a preferred option and consider the regulatory and company impacts of introduction/adoption.
The project team recommended one option as the most viable for refocusing the SIM for the next regulatory cycle (2015-2020). It is an evolutionary approach which simplifies the current SIM metrics to focus on industry standard overall satisfaction measures of Service Quality, Customer Effect Score, Customer Experience and the Net Promoter Score for the qualiltative component. A single quantitative metric of the total number of complaints from all contact channels is also proposed.

Billing and Operational Services - Preferred Customer Communication Channels

Ref: 10/CU/01/5            Price: £20
ISBN: 1 84057 578 6

Thie project examined the way that water companies communicate with their customers regarding water and sewerage services and charges, and included a review of alternative channels made possible by new technology. It aimed to provide the industry with up to date information to enable sound strategic choices on appropriate methods of communicating with customers to be made, with the scope encompassing both operational and bill-related interactions.
The report sets out the conclusions and recommendations based on the study findings from the various research elements. Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies were utilised including: desk research; 17 telephone depth interviews, and; quantitative telephone surveys of 1000 consumers and 200 businesses.
The findings represent a snapshot of customer attitudes at this moment in time with the understanding that they will not necessarily hold the same views in five to ten years time when further technological advances will have been made.

Issues Regarding the Potential Adoption of Supply Pipes: Costs, Customer Service and Regulatory Impacts

Ref: 09/CU/01/4            Price: £20
ISBN: 1 84057 537 9

There is potential for the adoption of supply pipes, particularly following adoption of private sewers and lateral drains. Adopted supply pipes may provide a solution for maintenance problems and facilitate an integrated and sustainable approach to network management. The future transfer of private supply pipes to water company ownership will have significant and varying impacts on all stakeholders.
This report follows previous work (04/RG/07/5) and provides further understanding of supply pipe issues by consolidating available data, quantifying the costs and benefits and considering the broad range of legal, regulatory and customer issues that will arise from adoption. Costs and benefits of alternative schemes of adoption are referenced against the current approach and considered over the long term. Sustainable management of the supply pipe asset is given particular consideration.
The report provides a spreadsheet to allow exploration of the costs and benefits assumed.