Search Legislation

Water Act 2014

General duties of the Water Services Regulation Authority
Section 22: Primary duty to secure resilience

134.This section amends section 2 of the WIA which sets out “general duties with respect to the water industry”. These duties apply both to the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers and to Ofwat in the exercise of their relevant regulatory responsibilities. This section introduces a new duty, which is to further the resilience objective.

135.Subsection (2DA)(a) explains that the resilience objective is to secure the long-term resilience of water supply and sewerage systems. It refers specifically to environmental pressures, population growth and changes in consumer behaviour`.

136.Subsection (2DA)(b) explains that Ofwat will need to ensure that undertakers take action to make water and sewerage services to consumers resilient for the long term.

137.The section states that the action taken to secure resilience can include promoting long-term planning and appropriate investment, increasing efficiency in the use of water, and the use of a full range of appropriate measures to manage water resources. Appropriate measures would include action to reduce consumer demand and to ensure the effective management of water resources within the water environment.

138.Subsection (2DB)(a) defines supply systems by reference to the new section 17B while subsection (2DB)(b) defines sewerage systems.

Section 23: General duty as regards undue preference in the provision of services

139.This section inserts new subsection (ba) to section 2(3) of the WIA which imposes a general duty on the Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers and Ofwat to carry out their functions with a view to securing that undertakers do not show any undue preference or undue discrimination in favour of (in particular) their own retail businesses, associated licensees or other undertakers in the provision of services for licensees, inset appointees or other undertakers.

140.Undue preference might be demonstrated by an undertaker, for example, where it prioritises enquiries from its own end-user customers or from its subsidiary licensee over those from another licensee or undertaker. Undue discrimination might involve an undertaker placing different information requirements on unassociated licensees or other undertakers that it would not normally require from its own retail business or subsidiary licensee. This would in effect give the undertaker’s own business interests a competitive advantage over others that are operating in the same market.

Section 24: Strategic priorities and objectives

141.This section replaces the current section 2A of the WIA with a new power enabling the Secretary of State to publish a statement setting out strategic priorities and objectives for Ofwat in relation to appointment areas wholly or mainly in England. Currently, section 2A provides the power under which the Social and Environmental Guidance (SEG) to Ofwat is issued; Ofwat must have regard to this guidance. The new section 2A establishes that Ofwat must carry out its relevant functions in accordance with the statement published by the Secretary of State.

142.The section creates a new power allowing for the production of a single consolidated statement of the Government’s priorities for Ofwat. This will allow for future iterations of the current Strategic Policy Statement incorporating the SEG to be produced under a single power.

143.Subsection (3) requires the Secretary of State when producing the statement to have regard to Ofwat’s duties under section 2 of the WIA. These include, for example, duties to:

  • protect consumers;

  • have regard to the interests of vulnerable groups;

  • ensure that the functions of water and sewerage companies are performed properly and that the companies are able to finance those functions;

  • further the resilience objective;

  • contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

144.The section also specifies that the Secretary of State must have regard to social and environmental matters. This duty will require the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers to set out strategic priorities and objectives for Ofwat on the matters previously covered by the Social and Environmental Guidance.

145.Subsections (4) to (8) set out requirements for consultation and parliamentary scrutiny of the statement.

146.The new section 2B sets out similar powers for the Welsh Ministers to publish a statement setting out strategic priorities and objectives for Ofwat in relation to appointment areas wholly or mainly in Wales.

147.The section provides for an amendment to section 192A of the WIA such that Ofwat will need to include in its forward work programme an explanation of how projects included in it reflect priorities and objectives published under section 2A or 2B.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources

Impact Assessments

Impact Assessments generally accompany all UK Government interventions of a regulatory nature that affect the private sector, civil society organisations and public services. They apply regardless of whether the regulation originates from a domestic or international source and can accompany primary (Acts etc) and secondary legislation (SIs). An Impact Assessment allows those with an interest in the policy area to understand:

  • Why the government is proposing to intervene;
  • The main options the government is considering, and which one is preferred;
  • How and to what extent new policies may impact on them; and,
  • The estimated costs and benefits of proposed measures.