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Independent Networks Association

INA Welcomes Ofwat’s New Vulnerability Guidance with Suggestions for Enhancement

The Independent Networks Association (INA) has responded to Ofwat’s consultation on draft vulnerability guidance for water companies, endorsing the framework while suggesting improvements. The response highlights the INA’s support for retaining the vulnerability definition from Ofwat’s 2016 Vulnerability Focus report, praising its comprehensive coverage of customers who may require extra assistance.

The INA has stressed the importance of operating a consistent approach across utility sectors, aligning with Ofgem’s standards for energy customers, and calls for clarity on the guidance’s application to new appointees and the Welsh non-household sector.

Nicola Pitts, INA Executive Director, expanded on the submission, commenting, “We are generally supportive of Ofwat’s approach, which mirrors the successful frameworks in the energy sector. However, we believe that integrating lessons from other regulated sectors and prioritising data sharing agreements could significantly enhance the support for vulnerable customers.”

Additionally, as part of its response, the INA has suggested the introduction of standard communication protocols between incumbent water companies and NAVs to aid in addressing network issues efficiently, particularly benefiting vulnerable customers. The response supports Ofwat’s enforcement of customer-focused licence conditions via the draft guidance and agrees with the proposed objectives and minimum expectations for vulnerability support activities.

INA Chair Vicki Spiers stated, “This guidance is a step in the right direction towards ensuring vulnerable customers receive the support they need. However, by adopting a more integrated approach and facilitating better communication and data sharing, we can further enhance customer experiences across the board.”

The INA’s response underscores the potential for collaborative efforts between regulatory bodies and independent network operators to improve services for vulnerable customers, advocating for a more unified approach across utility sectors.


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