During our business planning for the 2015-2020 period, the Customer Challenge Group (CCG) provided United Utilities with assurance on its customer engagement strategies and research to support the setting of prices for 2015-2020.
As an independent body of individuals from different sectors, backgrounds and with different areas of expertise, the CCG ensured that customers were at the heart of the company’s business planning engagement and that there was a healthy debate about the priorities for investment and what this would cost customers. The expertise embodied in the CCG ranged from Citizens’ Advice, to the CBI; from environmental organisations to public health; and from flood and coastal defence organisations to consumer interests. The group was effective and influential and challenged the company at a range of levels, including through engagement with the Executive Management Team and at Board level.
CCG members (through an independent review of its work) and United Utilities expressed a wish to see the group continue to play a key role in the company’s delivery of its 2015-2020 business plan.
YourVoice is established
Building on the work and membership of the CCG, a new group of customer and stakeholder representatives, known as “YourVoice” panel, has been formed. The panel has an integral part in monitoring, assuring and reporting on the delivery of the company’s commitments to customers and other stakeholders as agreed with the regulator for the water and sewerage industry, Ofwat. The panel also looks at how company research can continue to capture and strengthen the views of its customers.
United Utilities asked Andrea Cook and Bernice Law to be Chair and Deputy Chair of the panel respectively. Andrea and Bernice, who were Chair and Deputy Chair of the CCG, will work with YourVoice over the next 12-15 months, as the group establishes itself and transitions to its new role.
The objective of the panel's work is to help United Utilities to reflect on what type of consumer representation is needed and how this relates to the company’s existing governance arrangements. The new panel has some ‘fresh faces’ to ensure there is a healthy dynamic of both experienced and new views. In particular the Chair, Deputy Chair and United Utilities have sought to ensure the right mixture between customer, regulatory and environmental representatives, enhancing the number of organisations representing customer views, to improve the balance with other members that have a purely statutory remit.
Chair Andrea Cook commented: “We are customer experts who are fully independent of the water company and impartial in our views. We have the ability to manage different opinions to provide a richness of comment which will challenge the company. We are committed to work to achieve a healthy balance of input from customers, non-water company industry experts and professional customer champions”.
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The make up of the panel, which now meets regularly can be found here.