In April 2019 the water industry reaffirmed its ongoing determination to work in the public interest through publication of Water UK’s Public Interest Commitment (PIC).
At the heart of the PIC are pledges to champion measures through which water companies can enshrine public interest within their business purpose, and to work together towards five challenging goals for social and environmental progress.
The specific pledges in the Public Interest Commitment are:
- Triple the rate of sector-wide leakage reduction by 2030. As part of a wider long-term strategy to reduce per capita consumption of water and invest in more water transfer and storage, this goal represents an unprecedented rate of improvement to help us to meet the unprecedented challenges posed to water supplies by climate change and population growth.
- Make bills affordable as a minimum for all households with water and sewerage bills more than 5% of their disposable income by 2030 and develop a strategy to end water poverty. This requires a package approach tailored to local needs, including measures such as helping customers to be more water efficient, providing social tariffs and additional forms of financial assistance, and working with other organisations to support customers in vulnerable circumstances.
- Achieve net zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030. As energy-intensive businesses, we have an important contribution to make in tackling the causes of climate change. We can make a real difference through measures such as greater water efficiency, buying green energy as well as generating renewable energy ourselves, planting trees, restoring peatland and working with our supply chain.
- Prevent the equivalent of 4 billion plastic bottles ending up as waste by 2030. We will end the use of avoidable single-use plastics in our businesses and support the contribution which the public can make by providing water refill facilities and through education. Our ambition is to be world leading in the role water companies can play in the wider campaign to cut down on plastic pollution.
- Be the first sector to achieve 100% commitment to the Social Mobility Pledge. Along with investment in skills, this is part of our wider aim to promote opportunity in local communities and increase talent and diversity within companies. The Pledge commits to action in three areas – partnering with schools or colleges to provide coaching, providing structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities, and adopting open employee recruitment practices – all aimed at people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances.
Each pledge has a water company Chief Executive Sponsor, and we are pleased that our Chief Executive Heidi Mottram is the sponsor for pledges on affordability and on carbon.