Foreword by the Chief Executive
Welcome to our Corporate Plan, which sets out our commitments to customers, communities and other stakeholders for the period 2021-27. The plan explains how the Commission will contribute to the transformation that is beginning to take place in the Scottish water industry. The Commission is starting to embed a new regulatory approach, one founded on the principles of Ethical Business Regulation (EBR). We believe that the adoption by Scottish Water and all market participants of Ethical Business Practice (EBP), reinforced by our own move to an EBR approach, will enable the water industry to meet the challenges that lie ahead as effectively as possible, and to do so long into the future. The move will also support the industry as it sets out to deliver the common water industry vision, agreed by all stakeholders.
Scottish Water’s Strategic Plan, published in February 2020, was a first step on the journey it will need to make as it seeks to achieve that common industry vision. Scottish Water must now develop a Transformation Plan that outlines the organisational and cultural changes that will be necessary if it is to deliver the long-term vision that it outlined in its Strategic Plan. As part of this, the onus will be on Scottish Water to explain how it will deliver the transformation and communicate this to its customers and communities.
The scale of the transformation required should not be underestimated: Scottish Water will have to more than double its average annual level of investment, become more customer and community centric, and achieve net zero emissions on both its operational and embedded carbon footprints. Perhaps most importantly, Scottish Water should be proposing to its regulators, and to the customers and communities it serves, solutions to potential issues ahead of any concerns ever arising.
As such, a robust and ambitious plan will be essential if Scottish Water is to achieve the Scottish Ministers’ expectations for the water industry for the future.
As part of its journey it will be necessary for Scottish Water to transition to an EBP approach. This will ensure that the business achieves genuine ownership of its relationship with – and responsibility towards – its customers.
For the Commission the move to EBR will entail a transformation of our own. To support this, the Commission Board has agreed a revised strategy. The strategy reflects the context in which we are operating and places emphasis on implementing a framework that enables long-term thinking and planning; supports the sector to deliver a world-leading service for customers and communities; and places our work at the cutting edge of economic regulation. This Corporate Plan puts that strategy into effect.
Building on our revised strategy and in preparing this Corporate Plan, we have considered how best to structure our business activities. In particular we recognise that EBR will require the introduction of new approaches, some of which demand new skills. We will continue to invest in the professional development of our staff and to maintain our culture of continuous improvement. We have also determined that the collaborative and flexible ways in which we already work should be more closely reflected in our Corporate Plan.
In the past three years, the Commission has supported the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation Initiative. The income earned contributes towards keeping our costs to customers in Scotland as low as possible. Our work on Hydro Nation projects has provided wider benefits too – for example, offering excellent learning experiences for staff, particularly for those at the start of their career.
The work also supports recruitment and retention of key staff, thereby helping us to regulate the water industry in Scotland more effectively.
To implement this Corporate Plan, we will need to continue to attract and retain inquisitive individuals from diverse backgrounds who share a desire to do the best for the industry’s customers and communities. For this reason, an important element of the Corporate Plan is our enhanced graduate training and development programme.
In closing, and on behalf of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our wide-ranging water industry stakeholders here in Scotland, in the rest of the UK, and internationally. We look forward to continuing to work together in the forthcoming regulatory control period.
ALAN D A SUTHERLAND
7 December 2020