PR14 affordability research for United Utilities

The problem

  • Ofwat required that all water and sewerage companies engaged customers in the PR14 price-setting process to promote fairness and legitimacy.

  • Customer engagement was an important factor in determining whether Ofwat would accept companies’ business plans.

  • Evidence of customer acceptance would be crucial if changes to customers’ bills and services were proposed.


Our approach

We worked with an environmental economics consultancy to gather robust and credible feedback from customers. The key elements of this were:

  • Qualitative focus groups and cognitive interviews to translate service levels and priorities into plain English.

  • 150 pilot quantitative interviews (water resources and sewer flooding) using tablet devices.

  • 2,000 quantitative domestic and commercial interviews using specialist b2b recruiters.

  • A staff engagement day.

The outcome

Based on the evidence provided via the customer feedback we collected, United Utilities decided that prices in 2014-15 would rise by no more than inflation, measured by the Retail Prices Index, meaning that customers would not pay "the full allowed price increase".

“Impact delivered large numbers of surveys in a short period of time to a very high standard.”

United Utilities