Chief Executive Officer's Welcome
Welcome to this summary of our Annual Performance Report 2019/20. 

This is designed to give you an overview of how we have performed as a company over the last year.


You can find more details in our full APR document.


Our vision is to be the national leader in provision of sustainable water and wastewater services. I am delighted that we have made further progress towards this vision, and we remain one of the leaders in our industry. 

Rising to the challenge of COVID-19

COVID-19 brought into sharp focus our daily responsibility to deliver clean water safely, and take away waste water for millions of people. The vital importance of these services has perhaps never been so clear. 


I’m incredibly proud of how our teams have come together to continue to provide our customers with this essential public service in the face of the pandemic. Despite the unprecedented challenges, we have not wavered in our commitment to do even more than what is expected of us.


Keeping our employees safe was our first priority. We quickly took steps to enable our customer and support teams to work from home, in line with government guidance, and took measures to ensure that our field workers could continue to carry out their essential work safely.

Easing customer worries

We understand how difficult this time has been for many of our customers. So, we have extended our ‘Water without the Worry’ campaign, providing payment breaks to over 5,000 customers and applying our social tariffs to 2,000 customers struggling to afford their bills. We signed up 1,700 extra customers to our Priority Services Register. 


By building on other customer messages such as ‘Bin the Wipe’ we reinforced that, even during toilet roll shortages, other materials should not be flushed down the toilet.


We were one of the first businesses to sign the C-19 Business Pledge. This pledge commits us to help our customers, employees and communities as our part to help the country pull through the COVID-19 crisis. 


We will continue to respond to government guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops to ensure that we keep delivering our key services safely, and look after our employees, customers and communities.


We will also work with our regulators to understand how best to reflect the impact of COVID-19 in relation to our targets for 2020-25.

Our performance in 2019/20

We have been through a major transformation programme over the past few years to introduce a new customer contact and billing system and new digital platforms. 


These systems mean customers can engage with us in the way they choose but our greatest asset when it comes to providing unrivalled customer experience is our people. With our Just Add You approach, we’re taking best practice approaches and tailoring them to deliver what our customers have told us are their top priorities.


We made steady improvements across almost all of our targets in our water business, meeting our leakage targets in both of our operating regions and continuing long term improvements in reducing contacts related to the appearance and smell of our water.


We continued our strong environmental performance and have continued to focus on sewer flooding, which is one of the worst service failures our customers can experience.


We have set ourselves a really challenging target of being carbon neutral by 2027, and I’m very pleased with the real progress we are making.


Innovation remains key to improving our long-term performance. We hosted our third Innovation Festival this year, and also held a joint Innovate East event with Anglian Water.


The common theme running through all of these achievements is that they are the result of the hard work that our people put in every single day. 


Through our Great Place to Work strategy we aspire for all of our people to have a great experience at work, to understand the part they play to achieve our vision and to deliver an unrivalled customer experience. We were delighted to be recognised as the Best Place to Work in the North East in our northern operating area at the Best Places to Work awards.

Looking forward

We are now entering the next five-year business plan cycle for our sector. I am extremely proud of Our Plan, the engagement we had with over 400,000 customers in developing it, and of the ambitious goals and significant bill reductions we set out as a result.


Our goals are ambitious and so we need to push on and put our efforts firmly on delivering against the Outcomes which our customers told us were so important to them. 


We know we are building on strong foundations in many areas, such as leakage and our environmental performance, where we have been performing strongly for a number of years. 


Equally we know we have to improve our performance across other areas such as water quality and sewer flooding in order to meet our stretching performance commitments and industry-leading ambitions, and our plans are already underway.


We are proud of the improvements we have made over the past five years, but we are never complacent and are focused on delivering the ambitious goals we’ve set for the next five years and beyond. 


I hope you find our Annual Performance Report summary helpful and informative.


Heidi Mottram CBE

Chief Executive Officer