Industry survey reveals impact of COVID-19 on water supply chain

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Large parts of the UK water and wastewater supplier community have seen a fall in business turnover during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new impact survey by British Water.

While the decrease had been slight for 41% of supply chain respondents, for nearly 30% it had been significant, with a third of businesses furloughing “many” employees.

Looking ahead, 32% of companies expected turnover to decrease over the next six to 12 months, although 35% expected it to stay the same.

British Water, a trade association covering all sectors of the water and wastewater industry, undertook the survey in October to assess the impact of the pandemic on individual companies, and their future expectations and concerns.

Thanking the 178 individuals who responded, British Water chief executive Lila Thompson commented: “The water and wastewater community has been absolutely critical in protecting and maintaining public health throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“During this time, the sector has clearly faced its own challenges but has proven its resilience and agility.

“We are determined to continue to offer the right support to the supply chain throughout the next stages of the pandemic, so companies can continue to offer their essential services and emerge from the crisis in a strong position.

“The valuable insights received from our survey will help shape this support.”

Other findings of the survey included:

  • 20% of companies that responded had experienced cashflow concerns, although 62% had not (the remainder preferred not to say)
  • 27% had made staff redundancies, 65% had not
  • To help maintain cashflow, 10% of respondents stopped new strategic investments

The full findings of the survey are available on the British Water website.