Survey reveals COVID-19 impact on water supply chain

Large parts of the UK water and wastewater supplier community have seen a fall in business turnover during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to findings of a British Water impact survey, published on Wednesday 25 November.

While the decrease had been slight for 41% of supply chain respondents, for nearly 30% it had been significant, with a third of businesses furloughing “many” employees. Looking ahead, 32% of companies expected turnover to decrease over the next six to 12 months, although 35% expected it to stay the same.

British Water chief executive Lila Thompson

British Water undertook the survey in October 2020 to assess the impact COVID-19 had had on individual companies to date, and their future expectations and concerns. As lead representative body for the UK water industry supply chain, it reached out to members and non-members to establish a complete picture of how companies across all levels had been affected.

Other insights included:

  • 20% of companies that responded had experienced cashflow concerns, although 62% had not (the remainder preferred not to say)
  • 27% had made staff redundancies, 65% had not
  • To help maintain cashflow, 10% of respondents stopped new strategic investments
  • The crisis had had a significant impact on the wellbeing of respondents and their colleagues 
  • Just over 70% felt the support offered by British Water throughout the crisis had been good or excellent.

Thanking the 178 individuals who responded, British Water chief executive Lila Thompson said, “The water and wastewater community has been absolutely critical in protecting and maintaining public health throughout the COVID-19 crisis. During this time, the sector has clearly faced its own challenges but has proven its resilience and agility. 

“We are determined to continue to offer the right support to the supply chain throughout the next stages of the pandemic, so companies can continue to offer their essential services and emerge from the crisis in a strong position. The valuable insights received from our survey will help shape this support.”