Acceptability and what it means in the Water Industry

PR19 - Acceptability and what it means

Research and engagement is at the core of PR19 and there is still one vital strand that needs to be completed. Acceptability.

With clear guidance from Ofwat that enhanced customer engagement is a prerequisite of PR19, water companies must demonstrate that they have listened to customers and understand their preferences and priorities.

Acceptability is highlighted as the final strand to research and engagement programmes. Acceptability takes the final plan to customers and stakeholders and ensures that their priorities and preferences have been understood.

Ultimately – customers are ‘accepting’ the business plan to enable their water company to put the steps in place to operationally deliver it.  

How to make acceptability robust and quantifiable

With direction from Ofwat that customers and their representatives must be able to challenge companies throughout the process, water companies need to ensure that acceptability research is robust, with customer buy in and acceptance clearly evidenced and quantified.

Qualitative outputs are also vital to enable customers to understand the decision making and story behind the business plan. A qualitative approach will also provide insight into areas of the plan customers find less acceptable – which is equally as important as those elements which customers accept.

Acceptability and the challenges

Our experience in the water sector means we understand the complexities and work with our clients to mitigate the challenges.

Key considerations around acceptability projects:

  • The level of information given to customers
  • Presenting the information in an independent unbiased way
  • Representing the plan in a customer friendly way  - bills in real terms and in context which demonstrates the impact of the proposed plan
  • Making the information comparative and contextual
  • Inclusivity of all customers, including – vulnerability, socio economic and local regional differences

Explain has worked within the water sector for two decades, working in contracted partnerships with several of the UK’s biggest and most respected suppliers and distributors. These relationships have allowed Explain to develop an in-depth understanding of the importance of customer and stakeholder engagement, delivering research programmes throughout PR09, PR14 and PR19.

Why Explain

Independent: You can be confident that our advice will be impartial, open and focused on delivering robust insight to finalise PR19 business planning

Bespoke solutions: Offering a range of research methodologies from the traditional to the innovative, always focusing on the best approach to deliver robust insights ensuring we engage with the end user  

Research that unlocks insight: Delivering a range of research solutions through a mix of methodologies to deliver insights which overcomes the challenges to acceptability providing independent insight to validate the business plan.

Our team at Explain Market Research are experts at putting in place research programmes to support business planning priorities within the utilities sector. Throughout PR19 business planning Explain has worked with Northumbrian Water Group, SES Water and South Staffs to deliver actionable insight.

Contact us today to find out how we could support you and get in touch with our team to understand more about the solutions we can provide. 


Sage Bellway

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