We are the water and wastewater provider in the North West of England and are subject to economic, quality and environmental regulation

Key facts


household and non-household customers in England and Wales


licensed water and wastewater companies


invested in maintaining and improving assets and services since privatisation

Our industry and market

Customers in England and Wales are served by ten licensed water and wastewater companies, making up around 95 per cent of the industry, with the remainder being smaller licensed companies providing water-only services.

Since privatisation in 1989, the water industry has invested over £130 billion and delivered a significant contribution to improvements in public health. This investment has led to improvements in the quality of services, significantly higher environmental standards, and superior quality drinking water.

The advancement of technology and innovation makes way for more improvements as we continue to invest to improve services for the long term. Customer bills have declined in real terms in the current and last regulatory periods.

The water and wastewater companies are split regionally based on river catchment areas. United Utilities Water Limited (UUW) operates in the North West of England, and is the second largest of these companies based on the size of our asset base, measured by Regulatory Capital Value (RCV).

We provide water and wastewater services to a population of over seven million people, with over three million household customers making up around two-thirds of our total revenue, and over 200,000 businesses, ranging in size from large manufacturing companies to small shops.

Our competitive environment

Our main competitors are the other water and wastewater companies in England and Wales. Our vision is to be the best UK water and wastewater company, and so we regularly benchmark our performance against these peers.

Our regulators assess our comparative operational performance against the other water and wastewater companies in England and Wales:

  • The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) assesses our performance in the water business;
  • The Environment Agency (EA) assesses our performance in the wastewater business; and
  • Ofwat assesses our customer service performance through its qualitative and quantitative Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) scores.

The EA performance assessment and qualitative and quantitative SIM scores are included in our operational key performance indicators (KPIs).

As well as assessment against our water peers, we benchmark our customer service performance against other leading service providers in our region. As a FTSE 100 public listed company, the other UK and worldwide utilities are competitors from an investment perspective.

Our political and regulatory environment

We are subject to regulation of price and performance by economic, quality and environmental regulators, as set out in the diagram. These bodies exist to help protect the interests of customers and the environment.

The political and regulatory framework can change significantly in the long term and we have seen substantial tightening of laws and regulations since privatisation of the water industry. To some extent these changes are outside our direct control. Maintaining good relationships with these bodies enables us to engage positively in order to influence future policy with the aim of achieving the best outcome for all of our stakeholders.