Why are we here?
We are the Independent Challenge Group for NWL and cover its two operating areas, Northumbrian Water (NW) and Essex & Suffolk Water (ESW).

We are a fiercely independent and balanced blend of industry regulators, subject experts and independent members who have wholeheartedly risen to the job at hand.


Our job isn’t to run the company or to make decisions (that’s for the Board and the Executive Leadership Team to do); it’s to champion on behalf of customers and challenge the company to understand the impact of decisions before they’re taken. Our challenges are always from a very early starting point - we challenge the company during business planning and as it delivers its plans.

Challenging the company during annual performance

We monitor the company’s performance through its updates at our main meetings, and its Annual Performance Report. We also review how effectively it fulfils its purpose in relation to communities and the environment through the Our Purpose report. 


We combine these updates and reports with deep dives into areas that are important to customers, such as drinking water quality and protecting rivers and coasts. We can then challenge the company strongly and knowledgeably. We report on many of these things to the industry’s economic regulator, Ofwat, within our statement in the company’s Annual Performance Report.

Challenging the company during business planning

The England and Wales water industry is embarking on its 2025 to 2030 planning and price-setting process, known as Periodic Review 2024 (PR24). 


Through this process, we will challenge the company to create a business plan that provides stretch in its targets, is affordable, provides the best options for customers, and fits with wider societal priorities.

The Customer Engagement Panel

Is an independent sub group of the Forum set up in 2022. We will challenge the company to make sure this business plan is grounded in excellent customer research and engagement. Setting up the Customer Engagement Panel will support us to do this. Its expert members will assess and comment on the extent the company genuinely understands its customers’ needs and priorities, and reflects these in its plan. 


How the panel will work


Customer Engagement Panel members will be part of the Water Forum, joining Forum meetings and taking part in discussions on customer research and engagement, and development of the PR24 plan. They will also meet as a sub-group to review detail of the company’s customer engagement work. In order to maintain its independence, the panel’s members will not take part in come other aspects of the Forum’s work, where it involves specific performance monitoring, or be invited to take part in any co-creation activities.

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