United Utilities in shape for new five-year regulatory period

United Utilities reservoir

North West water and wastewater group United Utilities said it has made a strong start to its new five-year regulatory period.

Announcing half year results to September 30, today, the Warrington-based group reported a fall in revenues, from £935.5m to £894.4m, although pre-tax profits of £201.1m rose from £195.1m last year.

It said it has a strong balance sheet and A3 stable credit rating with Moody’s. Also, its pension schemes are fully funded on a low dependency basis. The customer debtor position and household cash collection remain strong, while household bad debt was stable in the first half at 1.8%.

United Utilities said it will invest an additional £130m in 2019/20 and is leading the way on customer satisfaction.

The update also said the group is maintaining resilient and reliable services to more than seven million people, helping 142,000 customers facing financial difficulties through support schemes, and playing key role in regional economy – no employees are furloughed and the group is continuing to recruit.

Chief executive, Steve Mogford, said: “Our focus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been on supporting customers, protecting our colleagues and maintaining essential services.

“We have continued to provide high quality water and wastewater services to more than three million households in the North West thanks to the extraordinary hard work and dedication of my colleagues, many of whom are key workers.

“Average customer bills have reduced by seven per cent in real terms this year but we recognise that for many in our region, these are still challenging times.

“For those struggling to pay their bills, we offer the sector’s widest range of financial assistance schemes. We have also acted swiftly to increase the number of customers eligible for reduced tariffs.”

He added: “Despite the pandemic, our operational performance in this first year of the new regulatory period is on track.

“We are accelerating our capital expenditure to bring forward benefits and help support 17,700 jobs in the supply chain. We recognise the role that we can play in a successful society, economy and a thriving natural environment and are confident in our ability to deliver our AMP7 (regulatory period) plans to achieve this.

“We now have a clearer understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our business which remains robust and supported by a strong balance sheet.

“This, together with a stabilised inflation outlook supported by central bank policy and government actions, gives us the confidence to reaffirm our responsible AMP7 dividend policy of growth in line with CPIH inflation.”