Two of the UK’s most influential water sector representative organisations - British Water and the Water Industry Forum - are recommending 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 issued today, chairs Chris Loughlin and Mark Fletcher of British Water and the Water Industry Forum respectively, said: “During 2020 and the first quarter of 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.
Driving value for members and supporting the UK water sector
“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 unique 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 unique opportunities to contribute to, and derive value from, the challenge-led thought leadership that the Water Industry Forum is recognised for.”
The two chairs believe 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 geographic profiles of the two organisations, providing truly UK-wide coverage
- Respond to research in which a majority of respondents said that greater collaboration and/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.
“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.”
An update on the proposed merger will follow once feedback from members has been received and reviewed.
About the Water Industry Forum
The Water Industry Forum was launched in 2012. Its purpose is to tackle the many challenges facing the UK water sector, through thought leadership and facilitated collaborative working. It does this by providing a forum which is both independent and neutral, enabling multiple stakeholders to come together to share ideas and develop solutions.
The challenges are identified by members and addressed through briefings, seminars and challenge-based events such as roundtables, workshops, competitions and surveys, with associated outcomes captured in publications and shared across the sector.
Membership: Around 600 partner, full and associate members including government, regulators, water utilities, contractors, consultants, manufacturers, research companies, third sector organisations and investors.
About British Water
British Water dates back to 1938 and today provides a leading and coherent voice on behalf of the UK water sector supply chain, to ensure its members have access to the information and contacts they need to enhance their businesses.
It does this by representing members’ interests to key stakeholders, providing contacts and mechanisms to raise their profile and grow their business, and by promoting best practice in the water and wastewater industry.
In addition to supply chain organisations its membership also includes water utilities and academic institutions. British Water also represents the interests of its members on UK and European regulations and legislation, and in the creation of European and international standards.
Membership: 200+ full members including supply chain companies, water utilities and academic institutions, together with a network of 3000+ partners and other stakeholders.