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Governance

Good governance lies at the heart of all successful organisations. We firmly believe that it leads to better management decisions as well as helping to avoid exposure to potential risks and improving corporate resilience.

We strive to operate in a manner that reflects the highest standards of corporate governance, accountability and transparency. Our company structure and governance standards are designed to ensure that our board continues to observe sound and prudent governance in compliance with the principles of the UK Corporate Governance Code. Our audit committee has oversight of the policies and procedures in relation to anti-bribery and fraud.

We have an anti-bribery policy that all our employees must follow, and processes in place to monitor compliance with the policy. This policy is available to view online at unitedutilities.com/corporate/about-us/governance

We also operate an independently provided, confidential reporting telephone helpline and web portal for employees to raise matters of concern in relation to fraud, dishonesty, corruption, theft, security and bribery, and all claims are fully investigated.

Our employees and representatives of our suppliers must also comply with our sustainable supply chain charter, which explains that we will not tolerate corruption, bribery and anti-competitive actions and we expect our suppliers to comply with applicable laws and regulations and in particular never to offer or accept any undue payment or other consideration, directly or indirectly, for the purposes of inducing any person or entity to act contrary to their prescribed duties.

Prudent risk management

As you would expect of the provider of an essential service, we adopt a prudent approach to managing risks to our business. That being said, accepting some level of risk is a normal consequence for a commercial organisation being run in a cost-effective way.

Given the complex legal and regulatory environment within which we operate, we are exposed to a range of risks.

An important risk to our business is ensuring that we get the constituent elements of our five-yearly business plans correct to ensure our financeability, as well as the outcomes we will deliver for customers, and that we provide sufficient information to Ofwat to ensure we receive a final determination that covers these, as we are bound by these plans for the following five-year period with limited opportunity to change them. Failure to meet the terms of our current 2015–20 regulatory contract is a risk.

We face risks in relation to potential future changes in legislation or regulation. This includes the anticipated changes for the 2020–25 regulatory period, as outlined on Our marketplace, and increased political scrutiny with discussion of the potential Renationalisation of the water industry, as well as potential changes further into the future.

We also face risks such as possible non-compliance with existing laws or regulations, and from environmental impacts such as climate change.

See How we manage risks for more details on what we consider to be our principal risks and uncertainties.

Values and culture

We are committed to delivering our services in a responsible way and our approach to responsible business practice is outlined in our Business Principles document, which is available on our website at: unitedutilities.com/corporate/about-us/governance/business-principles. More information on the board’s approach to values and culture can be found on Code principles. Also see Our stakeholder engagement for how we are contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to ‘Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies and institutions’.

Our culture is embodied in our three core values of customer focus, integrity and innovation, and we operate with these at all levels of our business. These core values are interrelated – innovating to improve our services and acting with integrity in the way we conduct our activities helps us to continually improve customer service.

Customer focus

We have instilled a customer-centric approach right across our organisation, and this evolving culture has been a key driver of the major improvements in customer service we have been able to deliver.

Putting customers at the heart of what we do has also helped deliver benefits for shareholders and wider stakeholders.

Integrity

Acting with integrity, both at board level and as a company, underpins our approach to responsible business and building trust.

We actively encourage our employees to express their opinions and ideas through various engagement and social channels, such as our annual ‘Employee Voice’ survey, through news articles on our intranet, and on our social media collaboration tool ‘Yammer’.

Innovation

Innovation is a critical enabler in creating value, helping us to be ahead of our competitors, and we welcome ideas on how we can innovate across all levels of our business and from wider industries across the world.

Our employees are given the opportunity to develop and present their ideas to senior management, facilitating and encouraging an innovative environment. Utilising innovation from our suppliers is part of our supply chain approach, which provides another avenue to benefit from new ideas and technologies.

The Business insight - Innovation across our entire business demonstrates a few of the ways that we innovate across the business.