Our industry and market

Every day, over 50 million household and business consumers in England and Wales receive water and wastewater services. These are served by 10 licensed companies which provide both water and wastewater services.

We are the second largest of these based on the size of our asset base, as measured by Regulatory Capital Value (RCV). We, along with these other nine companies, comprise the vast majority of the total water and wastewater sector, as depicted on the pie chart below.

Additionally, there are licensed companies which provide water-only services and tend to be smaller in size.

As each company in the water sector operates as a regional monopoly for its services, they are subject to regulation in terms of both price and performance.

The privatisation of the industry over two decades ago has been widely perceived as a success, making a significant contribution to public health. It has led to improvements in the quality of services provided to customers, higher environmental standards and superior quality drinking water at lower estimated costs to customers than if the water sector was still owned by the UK Government. Since privatisation, the water industry has invested over £100 billion in maintaining and improving assets and services.

Competitive environment

The other water companies in England and Wales are naturally our main competitors and we benchmark our performance against them using comparative performance reports from our economic regulator, Ofwat, and our environmental regulator, the Environment Agency. Away from the water sector, in line with our vision to be the best UK water and wastewater company, we also benchmark our customer service performance against other leading service providers in our region. In addition, as a publicly listed FTSE 100 company, the other UK and worldwide listed utilities are competitors from an investment perspective.

The customers we serve

United Utilities Water holds licences to provide water and wastewater services to a population of approximately seven million people in the North West of England. We provide services to approximately three million households in our region and this generates around two-thirds of our total revenues. We also serve approximately 200,000 businesses, ranging in size from large manufacturing companies to small shops.

Water sector RCV

Water sector

United Utilities 16%

Other nine water and wastewater companies 79%

Totally RCV for all water-only companies 5%