Price review process

The price review is a financial review process led by the water industry’s economic regulator the Water Services Regulatory Authority (known as Ofwat).

Ofwat determines the price limits (the K factor) that water companies can increase or decrease the prices charged to customers over a period of time, which is currently 5 years.

Each water company submits a Business Plan (BP) for the period of the review which is assessed by Ofwat. Price limit periods normally begin on the first day in April in years ending in 0 or 5 and end on the last day of March 5 years later. The price limits for the current period (2015 to 2020) were set at the end of 2014 to take effect on 1st April 2015 and is commonly referred to as Price Review 14 (PR14). Planning for the next price review (PR19 which will run from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2025) is underway. Our guidance note Long Term Planning for the quality of drinking water supplies (PDF 202KB) sets out our views on issues that water companies may need to address for the PR19 period and beyond.

Price limit periods are sometimes known as AMP (Asset Management Plan) periods. The current period is commonly known as AMP6 because it is the sixth cycle since the water industry was privatised in 1989.

The price limits are set to enable water companies to deliver the services required of them over the period. These include allowing for capital maintenance of assets, ensuring security of supply and meeting drinking water and environmental quality requirements.

DWI’s involvement

DWI participates fully in the review in respect of the requirements in a company’s Business Plan for maintaining and/or improving drinking water quality. This is usually set up as a separate and additional requirement under capital investment to meet statutory obligations as required by the Regulations.

The water companies identify improvement schemes they consider are required, DWI challenges the justification for those schemes and then puts the agreed drinking water quality programme in place by using various legal instruments, usually either Undertakings submitted under section 19 of the Water Industry Act 1991, or Notices served under Regulation 28(4) of the Regulations.

Throughout the review process, Ofwat must work with key stakeholders, including DWI on drinking water supply matters, and the Environment Agency (EA)/Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on environmental matters. Ministers advise Ofwat as to their strategic priorities and objectives, and take advice from Ofwat on the key issue of whether the proposed programmes are affordable. Other stakeholders who contribute to the review process include other Government departments, for example the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) and Natural England (EN).

Ofwat published their methodology for PR19 in July 2017. Click here (PDF 105KB) for our response to this consultation, along with annexes A (PDF100KB), B (PDF 138KB), and C (PDF118KB).

Page reviewed: 12 September 2017
Page modified: 12 September 2017

Drinking Water Inspectorate