Leading UK valve, meterbox and water fitting specialists, Talis UK, is sharing the results of Talking Water, a new in-depth study into customer attitudes towards the water industry ahead of the major changes taking place within the sector.
The report’s findings suggest that there needs to be an urgent increase in public engagement and education about some of the major decisions being taken in their name.
Researchers asked a representative sample* of households across the UK a range of questions relating to issues affecting water supply and management. It revealed that while the public is appreciative of its water supply and the recreational facilities open water areas provide, in the majority of cases people are blissfully unaware of many wider challenges.
The issues of which most are aware stop at their front doors – except perhaps when floods hit the headlines. For this reason, the public see the debate over the future of the water sector as being mainly about prices and billing rather than the other major challenges facing our country.
Currently, people felt that water bills represented value for money, but many feared that change in the sector would result in higher bills (71%) confusing tariffs (65%) or worsening service (60%). However, there is much less concern for the introduction of mandatory water meters, although opinions are split about their potential positive impact on bills or water usage.
The report also highlights that the public know little of the wider services included in the cost of their water supply. While 85% understood that water companies controlled water supplies and waste, just 57% are aware of the wider social and environmental benefits of water companies, such as monitoring and reporting on pollution and helping to mitigate flood risks and preserving open water areas.
Mark Hodgens, managing director of Talis UK, comments: “It’s important for us to have a thorough understanding of the water industry so that we can find out what makes our customers tick. Our Talking Water Report helps to further this understanding, by highlighting public attitudes and awareness of the upcoming challenges and difficult decisions that face the UK water sector in years to come.
“Water is the most vital resource we have, but wider public involvement in the debate of how to change the sector is minimal. We’re hoping that this research will act as a catalyst for the UK water industry to work together to build awareness of the choices and implications.”
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