Water regulator and flood defences scrutinised by Public Accounts Committee
In October, water companies submitted their business plans from 2025-2030 to Ofwat, which has said it will be seeking to ensure value for money for future investment from the plans, under which customers’ bills are expected to rise.
The Committee will first scrutinise Ofwat’s work at this pivotal point for the sector, with likely topics for discussion including how Ofwat will help ensure a financially resilient market, a fair deal for customers, and safeguard the environment.
MPs are also likely to seek an update on how vulnerable customers will be supported with bill rises, and how regulation will be enforced.
The Committee will then turn to scrutiny of flood defences. An estimated 5.2m homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding, and around 700 properties are vulnerable to coastal erosion over the next twenty years, according to the Environment Agency (EA).
Government set the EA a target of better protecting 300,000 homes from flooding between 2015 and 2021, through an investment of £2.6bn. While EA is on track to meet this target, a National Audit Office report found that the Government’s narrow focus on targets to better protect homes has not necessarily produced the best return on investment, or represent the full picture in terms of tackling overall flood risk.
Based on the NAO report, the Committee will take evidence from senior officials from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the EA on subjects including current risk management arrangements, what has been achieved in flood protection between 2015 and 2021, and Government’s preparedness to manage and reduce flood risk in the future.