YourVoice (YV) was established in 2015 as an independent challenge group representing United Utilities water and wastewater customers and stakeholders.
YV has evolved over time to include new members bringing specialisms around customer engagement, vulnerability, affordability, the environment, future bill payers voice and stakeholder representatives. We feel that collectively we represent a wide range of knowledge, expertise and experience to strengthen our scrutiny on behalf of customers in relation to water and wastewater.
We keep up to date on relevant issues, guidance etc and have attended induction sessions on the work of United Utilities and on our role and remit as members of YourVoice.
The role of YourVoice is to:
- provide independent challenge to United Utilities and independent assurance to Ofwat (the water regulator) on the quality, effectiveness and scope of customer engagement and insight.
- examine the extent to which this engagement and insight are driving United Utilities’ decision making and its Business Planning.
- monitor the performance of United Utilities against its promises to customers and stakeholders including in its Business plan and wider strategies including providing a narrative for the customer Annual Performance review.
The panel will be cognisant of the company’s performance compared to other water companies.
Sub Groups and YourVoice Chairs group
YV now operates using a sub group model. A combination of experience and results from a self-assessment of our performance have shown that smaller groups are able to specialise in particular areas of work which encourages input and discussion from all participants.
We have four sub groups and a YV panel which is composed of the chairs of each of the four sub groups along with the YV chair. Each group has around eight members.
- Customer Research and Engagement
- Environment and Social Capital
- Affordability and Vulnerability
- YourVoice Chairs’ group
HOW WE WORK
YV and sub group meetings are held at least quarterly but the frequency increases as the Business plan 2025 to 2030 (PR24) submission date approaches and the company is formulating detailed proposals. See business plan submission timetable.
Each sub group agrees its own agendas and all meetings are serviced by an independent secretary who also circulates papers and provides the minutes of all meetings.
The secretary also keeps a Challenge/issues log which details all challenges made by YV to the company and the company’s response.
United Utilities provides relevant experts to attend all sub groups and main YV meetings. All meetings are attended by relevant company staff, including Executive directors and, on occasion or at our request, the Chief Executive of United Utilities attends.
Members of United Utilities’ Board attend meetings at least annually and join YV at some engagement sessions with customers.
Each sub group and YV panel has the opportunity to meet in private without the company being present.
Relevant experts are invited on occasion to attend meetings, for example, the Drinking Water Inspectorate.
An example of this is that academic experts were engaged by YV to support them in a consultation exercise on a major infrastructure project.
Outside formal meetings the Customer Research and Engagement sub group, and any other relevant sub groups, review engagement proposals which often involves seeing the brief and reviewing and commenting on the materials to be used. Members also review field testing and all observations are recorded and fed back to the company.
The sub group also observe engagement with customers and stakeholders in workshops or group sessions to assess the quality and scope of that engagement and the extent to which it is understood and engaged in by customers.
The sub group is invited to feedback sessions following the completion of field work. This feedback is given to YV and the company at the same time.
All comments and queries from sub group members are recorded and receive written feedback on the extent to which the company has amended materials in light of these comments. These observation are listed on the Challenge/issues log page.
Members of YV are aware of potential conflicts of interest and how they should be dealt with, to protect the independence of the ICG. A conflict of interest policy has been issued.
The YV chair attends the UU Board at least annually, and the Corporate Responsibility Committee.
The YV chair is a member of the Challenge Co-ordination Group which brings together all Independent Challenge Group chairs from across the country along with the Consumer Council for Water and Ofwat to share information and best practice.
United Utilities has established an expert group to provide scrutiny to the WINEP (Water Industry National Environment Programme). The chair of YV is a member of this panel to represent the voice of customers.