British Water and the Water Industry Forum have recommended to their members that they join forces.
Details of the proposed merger have been circulated to their combined membership, who represent a broad cross-section of UK water sector stakeholders, seeking their support to proceed with the move later this year.
In a joint statement, chairs Chris Loughlin and Mark Fletcher of British Water and the Water Industry Forum respectively, said: “During 2020 and Q1 2021, our boards have been exploring this opportunity in depth, and our conclusion is that the case for us to join forces is compelling, with many advantages for our members and the UK water sector as a whole. Therefore, we are recommending to our members that we move forward together in 2021.
“Naturally, the views of our members are paramount. We have shared our proposals with them, explaining the background, rationale, key benefits and vision for the proposed new organisation, and part of this process includes an opportunity for them to provide comments and feedback.
“The purposes and activities of British Water and the Water Industry Forum are complementary and mutually supportive. By joining forces, we believe we can deliver enhanced value for our members and respond most effectively and efficiently to the challenges facing the UK water sector, government and wider society – and the many opportunities these challenges present.
“Together, we can capitalise on our respective strengths, providing an enlarged membership with British Water’s established infrastructure, support services and industry forums – as well as opportunities to contribute to, and derive value from, the challenge-led thought leadership that the Water Industry Forum is recognised for.”
The two chairs believed that the new, combined organisation would:
- Enjoy increased authority, weight and impact, with a stronger voice to help support and shape the future direction of the UK water sector.
- Provide access to new, enhanced services and increased value for money for members.
- Unite the geographical profiles of the two organisation, providing UK-wide coverage.
- Respond to research in which a majority of respondents said that greater collaboration or a “coming together” of UK water membership organisations would be beneficial.
“We have developed a proposed operating model and governance framework to support the activities and priorities of the merged organisation, and importantly to preserve the Water Industry Forum’s integrity and independence, enabling it to maintain the trust and respect that it enjoys throughout the sector,” they concluded.
“To this end, we are proposing that the Water Industry Forum remains as a limited company, operating as a subsidiary of British Water, with its management board bound by a code of conduct guaranteeing its independence and neutrality.”