Only three of the 17 water supply companies in England and Wales have had there investment plans approved by the industry regulator at first attempt. Water regulator Ofwat has today given its initial assessment of water companies’ business plans for 2020-25.

The plans of three water companies-Seven Trent, South West Water and United Utilities- were immediately given the green light by Ofwat. Ten companies were told that they had more work to do on their plans before approval can be given.

Four companies- Affinity Water, Hafren Dyfrdwy, Thames Water and Southern Water – were hauled over the coals. They have been told to go back to the drawing board, substantially rework their plans and resubmit them. Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher said: “We have challenged all water companies to deliver more for less for customers lover the next five years. They’ve listened to the customers they serve. We’re seeing an increased focus on the things closest to people’s hearts such as keeping bills affordable, cutting leakage, protecting the environment and helping those most in need. Three companies have already stepped up to the mark with high quality plans and stretching commitments to customers for the next five years. The rest of the sector now needs to meet this high standard so that customers across the country get better and more efficient services”. Thames Water chief executive Steve Robertson said: “Thames Water is disappointed with today’s announcement from Ofwat on our £11,7bn five year business plan, which is built on the feedback of nearly one million customers. We remain committed to our forward-looking plan, which prioritises investment over everything else – including shareholder dividends.

“The plan includes significantly increased investment to tackle issues that really matter to customers such as leakage, pollutions and resilience, while keeping average bills flat. It also supports job creation and regional economic growth and will deliver a four-fold rise in financial assistance to families in vulnerable circumstances.

“We are seeking Ofwat’s permission to invest more in areas where we know it is needed. Instead, it appears that we are being asked to reduce our current levels of spending. We are concerned that this will make it a harder to meet the needs and expectations of our customers, amid the challenges of population growth and climate change.

“We’ll now study the feedback in detail and look forward to engaging constructively with Ofwat throughout this process.