Government’s strategic priorities for Ofwat under consultation


The government’s new draft Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat has been published for consultation by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

The statement sets out the government’s strategic priorities for Ofwat’s regulation of the water sector in England.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow commented on the announcement: “We need water companies to take much more robust and ambitious action to improve the water environment and protect the nation’s water supplies in response to the risks posed by climate change.

“That is why I am clearly setting out the Government’s expectations through our strategic statement to Ofwat.

“Water companies have a holistic role in delivering improvements to our environment – through delivering greater flood resilience, protecting water resources and addressing water quality issues. We want to see them deliver on this in the round through work to tackle climate change.

“Our priorities for Ofwat build on the work I have already undertaken to reduce harm from storm overflows and sets a clear expectation for water companies to significantly reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows.”

The consultation outlines the key priorities for the independent regulator, including:

  • Protecting and enhancing the environment: Better protecting chalk streams and other rare habitats, and delivering the ambition of the 25 Year Environment Plan, with a focus on improving water quality by promoting nature and catchment-based solutions. Continuing to work on water companies’ day-to-day environmental performance, with a focus on meeting government’s ambitions to significantly reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows.
  • A resilient water sector: Challenging water companies to plan strategically to tackle long term risks of drought, flooding, and pollution. Continuing to work with companies to drive down leakage and improve water efficiency for the benefit of current and future customers.
  • Serving and protecting customers: Driving companies to treat all customers fairly, including through their complaints processes and wider customer service. Continuing to press for improved support for customers requiring extra help, both financial and non-financial.
  • Driving markets to deliver to customers: Considering where markets can play a role in driving innovation, efficiencies, and promote longer term sustainable investment across the sector.

This consultation has been extended, and will close at

More information about this consultation and how to take part is available on the UK Government website.