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Annual Report 2021 published

Rising to the challenge: Progress made towards new business plan targets despite challenging year - annual report for 2020/21 published 

Today, Monday 5 July 2021, SES Water has published its annual review of operating and financial performance results covering the first year of its Business Plan for 2020 to 2025, a period dominated by the impact of COVID-19 in maintaining service and support to customers.

Performance highlights include:

  • A continued focus on vulnerable customers means the company is now helping in more ways than ever before, including more than 12,000 customers registered on its Priority Services Register and more than 20,000 people in receipt of the Water Support Scheme which provides a 50% bill discount to those in financial hardship. More than 90% of customers think the additional support in place is helpful
  • In the past year SES Water has made steady progress up the Customer Experience (C-MeX) industry league table and is the most improved company for the customer satisfaction element
  • The company has stayed at or below the maximum allowed level of leakage every year since the target was first set over 20 years ago
  • The bursts target has been met again this year, which reflects the general good health of the network and the work that goes into maintaining it
  • There were just 401 contacts in 2020 from customers about the taste, smell or appearance of their water, which is upper quartile industry performance
  • Even with more employees working remotely, over 80% of contacts from customers were resolved ‘first time’
  • Despite reduced activity during lockdowns, over eight kilometres of aging water mains were replaced in the past year
  • The Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark for enhancing and protecting animal and plant life was achieved at Elmer Water Treatment Works and SES Water is now the only water company to hold the award
  • The focus on the environment continued with no category one or two pollution incidents and a further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

As well as delivering strong operational performance in many areas, this year the Company has continued to go beyond providing its essential public service and played an active part in the local communities it serves. This has included:

  • Launching ‘Breathing Space’, a payment pause scheme for customers facing life changes that have affected their income and who need time to adjust
  • Being the first local company to donate to the Surrey Coronavirus Response Fund, as well as providing voluntary time and other funding to support those in need
  • Opening ‘Flow Zone’, the Company’s brand new, state-of-the-art education centre at Bough Beech Reservoir
  • Expanding the fleet of electric vehicles and providing all qualifying employees with electric or plug-in hybrid company cars - SES Water is the first water company to have charging facilities at all its treatment works and head office

Total revenue has decreased £4 million to £65.8 million (2020: £69.8 million). Profit after tax is £3.6 million. Capital investment in new and replacement plant and equipment totals £26.5 million, down from £35.6 million last year due to periods of lockdown in the year where spending had to be curtailed.

Chief Executive Officer, Ian Cain, said: “The last year has been like no other and, as the first year of our 2020 to 2025 Business Plan, it was always going to be a challenging one, even without the pandemic. We’ve worked hard to make progress against some stretching targets in our plan, particularly those associated with providing additional support to customers and staying below the maximum allowed level of leakage.

“However, there are areas where we know we can, and will, do better. Water use has changed significantly in the last year making our target to reduce household water use much more challenging. We also missed our target for water supply interruptions, due to a single large water burst last summer. While we did not meet our target of our C-MeX score being in the top quartile of the industry, we have seen sustained progress with quarter-on-quarter improvements. We also have more to do to improve the service for our developer customers through the D-MeX industry metric.

“Our financial performance has been impacted by the pandemic but, despite this, our long-term financial resilience means we have been able to respond well to the effects of COVID-19 and have continued to invest in the areas that matter most to our customers.

“Above all, the past year has highlighted the unwavering commitment of all our staff and we will continue to rise to the challenges ahead and provide great service for our customers, who we are privileged to serve.”

Chairman, Jeremy Pelczer, said: “The last year has been challenging for all of us and has reinforced the critical role we play in society and the commitment we have to the communities we serve. The Board’s objective for the coming year, as we recover from the pandemic, is to maintain the best of what has helped us deliver our essential service through this difficult period, re-double our focus on those areas which have been most impacted and do more, where we can, to make the greatest contribution to society. We have a great deal to be proud of as a Company and the Board and I give our sincere thanks to all our staff and supply chain partners who have been committed to ensuring that, with many worries for our customers over the last year, their water supply has not been one of them.” 

Read an online summary of the annual report