Thursday, 22 January 2015

Yorkshire Water launches biggest ever apprenticeship scheme



Yorkshire Water will be creating 160 apprenticeships over the next five years in the biggest scheme of its kind ever launched by the company.

The majority of the new positions will be in operational roles as Yorkshire Water looks to recruit the next generation of skilled colleagues to be at the heart of providing a crucial service to millions of people around the region.

Yorkshire Water’s Esholt waste water treatment works was the location for an event to mark the launch of the scheme today (Friday, January 23) and recruitment for the roles will commence in May.

With almost one in five (18.3%) 18-24 year olds across Yorkshire not in education, employment or training (NEETs), the announcement is welcome news for the region.

The new skilled recruits will also ensure Yorkshire Water is prepared for a skills gap being predicted in the utility sector by 2025[1], partly caused by an ageing workforce.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “Many people may not be aware just what a diverse range of skills we have within the company – from qualified engineers to geologists to our talented operators.

“In fact, we have some of the most skilled colleagues that you’ll find in any industry and it’s so important to us as a business that we look to preserve this specialist knowledge for the future.

“That’s why we are delighted to announce these 160 apprenticeships, it’s great news for young people and for the Yorkshire economy. Ours is a company that invests in its people and, having joined as a graduate myself, I know there are endless opportunities to progress and develop here.”

Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, gave his backing to the scheme as he attended its launch. He said: “I am so pleased that Yorkshire Water are investing so much in apprenticeships.

“Since the election, there have been over 3000 more apprenticeships in the Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough area. With companies like Yorkshire Water realising the potential of apprenticeships, it is excellent news for our area, and I am proud to support the new scheme.”

While there will be a variety of opportunities in a number of different areas, the focus will be on skilled operational roles to prepare for the retirement of colleagues currently in those positions. This will ensure the technical capability remains high in Yorkshire Water’s workforce and the company’s reliable service continues.

The latest recruitment drive from Yorkshire Water will be on the back of recruiting 59 apprentices over  the past five years.

Details about Yorkshire Water’s apprenticeship programme and information about the recruitment process can be found on the company’s website: http://www.yorkshirewater.com/careers/apprenticeships.aspx



Monday, 19 January 2015

Yorkshire Water top for customer service


 
Yorkshire Water offers the best customer service of any utility company in the UK, according to the latest report by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

The institute’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index places Yorkshire Water ahead of 16 other major water and energy companies from around the country for its commitment to high levels of customer service.

And the news is a reflection of the work which has been done by Yorkshire Water over the past year, leading to the company rising from fifth place among utility companies to top of the table.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “The latest report from the Institute of Customer Service is fantastic recognition of all the hard work we’ve put into offering our customers the best experience possible.

“Nonetheless, we’re committed to improving our customer service even further. We’ll be continuing to find the things we can improve on to offer our five million domestic and business  customers an even better service.”

Among the measures introduced by Yorkshire Water are:

·         Customer in the room – Yorkshire Water customers that have had a bad experience with the company are invited to a session where they can explain the effect it had to everyone involved so that lessons can be learned.

·         Customer promise – Yorkshire Water now has a customer promise which is embedded into the culture of the company for all of its colleagues to buy into: http://www.yorkshirewater.com/our-customer-promise.aspx

·         Customer voice – Customers are asked to rate their experience out of 5 and those scores are directly fed back to the colleague involved.

·         Technology – The latest technology is always being borne in mind when dealing with customers. One example is the now widespread use of proactively texting customers affected by planned work or incidents.

The ICS’s Customer Satisfaction Index gives each company a customer service score based on surveys of over 10,000 customers across the country. The index looks at companies’ commitment to great service throughout the organisation, the processes they have in place and whether they approach people with customer service in mind.

As well as coming out top in the latest customer satisfaction index for the utility sector, Yorkshire Water has also been nominated for two awards at the national ICS awards in March.

 

One example of Yorkshire Water’s commitment to great customer service can be seen in the company’s recent introduction of Google Translate for members of its Water Quality team.

The application allows users to instantly translate any sentence from English into more than 80 different languages and the company is already noticing an improvement in its customer service as a result.

Tony Woodhead, a water quality sampling officer for the company, began using the technology after running into issues during some of his customer visits, which are done right across the region.

Tony said: “As part of our routine testing, we visit a number of customers each day to check their water quality and make sure everything is running as we’d expect it to.

“This involves selecting properties at random and visiting some of our customers a bit out of the blue. I was having some issues with those that didn’t speak particularly good English and I began to wonder how I could make things easier for them.

“That’s when I started using Google Translate as an option. I’ve already used it to explain my visit to customers in 18 different languages and it’s been so successful that there’s now more than 30 of my colleagues doing the same thing.”

Tony’s colleagues in the Water Quality team now have the software on their phones for the visits and the scheme is getting fantastic feedback from customers.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Recreated river route to restore wildlife



Pioneering work in South Yorkshire is aiming to reinvigorate wildlife in a section of the River Dearne catchment by using clever engineering to transform the water’s flow.

The innovative scheme will transform a stagnant, straight section of the stream that passes through Rabbit Ings Nature Reserve into a faster moving S-shaped channel. It is hoped that introducing this movement will clear away sediment and make the water cleaner for local wildlife.

And the members of the group behind its creation met today (January 15) to officially get work underway. The project is thought to be one of the first in the country to investigate whether restoring river habitat directly impacts water quality and the results will be reported in 2017. 

The project group, headed up by Yorkshire Water, includes members from the Environment Agency, Dearne Valley Greenheart Nature Improvement Area, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Rivers Trust, in addition to landowners The Land Trust and Barnsley Council and managing agents Groundwork in South Yorkshire.

If the project is successful, it could revolutionise the way the water industry approaches meeting river water quality standards close to waste water treatment works.

An expert delivery partnership of Willowbank Services, Peter Brett Associates and Hull International Fisheries Institute will be carrying out the work, which involves  a new meandering route for the stream to increase the flow and improve oxygenation.

It is hoped the scheme will remove the sorts of sediment deposits that have built up and impaired local wildlife since as far back as the industrial revolution.

The new stream route has also been designed to take key detours to ensure it doesn’t damage the existing water vole population or any of the local inhabitants.

Once finished, it is hoped the restoration will create a visible increase in indicators of good water quality, such as plants and invertebrates, as well as encouraging Yorkshire freshwater species such as shrimps, mayflies and brown trout to return. Yorkshire Water is collecting four years’ worth of data, both before and after the scheme, in a bid to assess its impact.

Yorkshire Water Project Manager Sarah Gledhill said: “Looking after the environment is important to us and we are keen to understand if habitat restoration can help streams like Sandybridge dyke recover from their industrial heritage to be more resilient in the future.

“This project could help shape the way in which we invest in the region in future and even revolutionise how we attempt to improve water quality.”

The habitat restoration is being trialled at the dyke largely due to its history. The stream runs through land formerly used to store waste from the nearby coal mine and a closed municipal landfill site. The stream is mostly man made, in poor condition and the perfect case study for the research.

Mick Birkinshaw, Rabbit Ings Country Park Ranger, said: “Since Rabbit Ings Country Park opened three years ago, the wildlife diversity has continually increased and this latest scheme will benefit the habitat even further. This exciting new project is another step forward that will extend and improve existing wetland habitats where we have water vole, water shrew, kingfisher and harvest mouse. This in turn will make it a more attractive site for visitors and our schools education programme.”

Ian Kendall, Estates Manager of The Land Trust said: “At Rabbit Ings The Land Trust and our managing partner Groundwork in South Yorkshire are dedicated to providing a place where people can enjoy a wide variety of our native wildlife. Therefore we are delighted to be involved in this ground breaking project and are very grateful for the massive investment that Yorkshire Water are making to improve such an important habitat.”
Project Manager Pete Wall said: “Rabbit Ings falls into the boundary of the Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area, one of only twelve in the country designated by DEFRA in 2012. We are delighted to be a part of the project, helping Yorkshire Water to improve the local environment for wildlife, creating a better place for people to live and work.”
Dearne Valley NIA Riparian Advisor Ailsa Henderson said: "Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff have been providing expert guidance throughout the project’s development, particularly regarding water voles which is Britain's fastest declining wild mammal along with other mammals that live within waterside habitats. As the project moves into its delivery phase we shall continue to advise the contractors working on site and look forward to seeing how this improved and extended habitat benefits the wildlife here." 
Anthony Downing, Environment Officer for Don and Rother Water and Land Team, said: "The design of this particular scheme works with natural processes to both address water quality problems and create greater diversity of river habitat which will be of benefit to plant and animal species.

We have been delighted to be part of this project, which not only has provided a good model for partnership working and water quality improvements, but hopefully it will also provide a sound evidence base to support future projects addressing water quality problems around water company discharges."

Barnsley Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Trevor Mayne, said this was a significant step forward for the catchment:

“For decades the whole Cudworth Dyke system, of which this stream is a part, has suffered from a multitude of abuses.  We are delighted to be involved in this project which should improve things for our native wildlife and habitats.”

ENDS

Monday, 29 December 2014

Living Wage accreditation for Yorkshire Water and Kelda group




The Kelda group including Yorkshire Water, has received formal accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.

The Living Wage commitment will see all eligible employees working at the company, regardless of whether they are permanent employees or third-party contractors and suppliers; receive a minimum hourly wage of £7.85, significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £6.50.
 
The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK. Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; it is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet.
Kelda and Yorkshire Water’s CEO Richard Flint said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the Living Wage accreditation because ensuring all eligible employees are paid fairly is the right thing to do, whether they are our employees or third-party contractors.
“We are proud to be one of the region’s biggest employers and with that position comes the responsibility that our colleagues receive a fair wage for the important work that they do.”
Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis. The Living Wage enjoys cross party support, with public backing from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Living Wage Foundation Director, Rhys Moore, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Kelda Group which includes Yorkshire Water to the Living Wage movement as an accredited employer.
“The best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the Living Wage now. The Living Wage is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.”
More than 1,000 leading employers have received the accreditation ranging from independent printers, hairdressers and breweries, to well-known companies such as Nationwide, Aviva and SSE.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Water bills to fall as investment continues in Yorkshire



Yorkshire Water’s five million customers will benefit from lower bills and better services over the next five years, the industry’s regulator, Ofwat, confirmed today (Friday, December 12th)
 
Average bills in Yorkshire will fall by around 3% over the period 2015 to 2020, ensuring that they will remain amongst the lowest in the country. This will reduce the average bill from £373 per year to £361*.
 
This means that in 2019/20 our customers will still be paying £15 less a year for their water and sewerage services than the national average water bill.
 
The good news was unveiled as final regulatory approval was given to Yorkshire Water’s latest five-year business plan, which will see the company invest more than £3.8 billion in the region’s water and sewerage services.
 
Yorkshire Water Chief Executive Richard Flint said the money would drive significant improvements in customer service, as well as delivering major environmental benefits across the region.
 
“This is great news for our customers who already benefit from having some of the lowest bills in the UK,” he said.
 
“When pulling together our plan, more than 30,000 customers gave us their views on what they thought we should be investing in. Our consultation programme was the biggest of all the water and sewerage companies, so we’re confident that it represents real value for money for our customers.
 
“As a company that prides itself on taking care of the water environment, we’re looking forward to building on the excellent work we’ve already undertaken to help improve the region’s reservoir catchments, countryside, rivers and streams,” said Mr Flint.
 
Over a third of the company’s investment plans are aimed at protecting and enhancing the region’s water environment, with £180 million alone set aside to improve the quality of Yorkshire’s inland waterways.
 
Other investments include:
  • £1.3 billion will be used to maintain the company existing and extensive network of treatment works, pumping stations, sewers and pipes
  • £220 million will be used to meet the challenges posed by issues like population growth
  • £50 million will be used to further improve drinking water quality
  • £10 million will be used to assist fish migration through Yorkshire’s river network, with the creation of numerous new fish passes
Customers will receive official notification of their new charges early in 2015, with further communications and bills being distributed between February and May.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with local communities to deliver our plan in the most effective and efficient way possible. We’re proud of the fact that we’re currently the most financially efficient water and sewerage company in the UK and we’re committed to ensuring that we continue to deliver value for money and invest in the things our customers say are important to them,” said Mr Flint.
 
He added that helping customers who were genuinely  struggling to pay their bills would remain a high priority for the company which would shortly be piloting a new ‘social tariff’ to help those in most need of financial assistance.
 
Yorkshire Water’s investment over the next five years will include:
  • £345m investment in Environmental Improvements (improving beyond current service)
  • £50m investment in improving Drinking Water Quality
  • £1.3bn investment in maintaining existing assets
  • £180m to improve the quality of Yorkshire’s inland rivers, helping them to achieve 'Good Ecological Status' under the Water Framework Directive
  • £12m invested to help collectively understand the impact catchment management has on the quality of the water we need to treat
  • Further investment in assisting fish migrate through Yorkshires river systems, this will see £10m invested in fish passes
  • To facilitate enhanced data and public transparency, we will be investing £6m installing monitoring equipment on our sewer network.


* The bill numbers presented here do not include the effect of inflation because we do not yet know what inflation will be in each of the next five years.

  

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Businesses join forces to fight the festive fat

 
Yorkshire Water is teaming up with supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to encourage customers not to cause pains in the drains this Christmas.

Customers pre-ordering a turkey from the two major retailers for their Christmas roast will receive free Yorkshire Water gadgets to help collect the fat, oil and grease (FOG) the annual festive feast generates.

Pouring FOGs down the sink can result in the liquids hardening as they cool and create blockages. Last year 2,635 sewer blockages around the Yorkshire region alone were caused by these liquids, often leading to flooding inside homes and businesses.

Not only are these blockages horrible for customers, they are also expensive to clear from the Yorkshire Water network; money that could be saved on customers’ bills.

Yorkshire Water is giving away 7,700 EkoFunnels at 30 Sainsbury’s stores across the region and 1,400 Fat Traps at seven Waitrose stores as part of the nationwide campaign. The traps and funnels can be used to collect waste FOGs for recycling or disposal via the bin.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “We’re asking people to put our sewers on a low fat diet and think before they dispose of fat, oil and grease down the sink or through the dishwasher.

“Whilst it only takes a couple of extra seconds to get rid of products like fat by putting it in the bin, it will mean that the millions of pounds we currently spend removing these products from the sewers of Yorkshire can be invested elsewhere - improving our network and the service we offer.”

Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re proud to be distributing over 7,700 EkoFunnels at our stores in Yorkshire this year. As well as keeping Britain’s waste water network flowing, the cooking oil and fat captured from your roast this Christmas could be turned into bio-fuel to power vehicles.”

Quentin Clark, Waitrose’s Head of Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing, added: “Fat in the sewers is a big problem, particularly at this time of year. Here at Waitrose, we are committed to supporting local communities and helping to reduce this problem across the country.

“By encouraging our customers to use our free fat-traps, we can dramatically cut the percentage of damage caused to drains by fat, oil and grease.”

Business In The Community (BITC) trialled the initiative with customers in London last year before helping to spread it to other parts of the country, including Yorkshire, this Christmas.

Liz Needleman, Area Director for England East for BITC said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative. It clearly shows how business collaboration can deliver practical results that are good for business and help us all to live more sustainably while create wider value for society. This is a great example of how businesses can work together to drive positive change towards a sustainable and prosperous future for themselves and the communities they serve.”

Free fat traps and EkoFunnels will be available, while stocks last.

Further information about disposing of fat, oil and grease safely is available on our website http://www.yorkshirewater.com/your-water-services/keeping-your-home-happy.aspx

Monday, 24 November 2014

Help at hand for South Yorkshire residents

 
Yorkshire Water is joining forces with South Yorkshire Police, Meg Munn MP and the Keep Me Posted campaign as it increases the support offered to vulnerable customers.
 
The company is the latest to join Meg Munn MP in supporting the Keep Me Posted campaign, signing up to a pledge on Friday (November 21st 2014) to give customers the right to choose how they are contacted by companies, whether that’s electronically or in the post.
And Yorkshire Water is also working with South Yorkshire Police to try and raise awareness of the distraction burglary tactics used by criminals posing as representatives of the “water board”.
The latest police figures show that pretending to be from Yorkshire Water is the top tactic used by bogus callers to gain access to resident’s homes, with almost a quarter of crimes instigated in this way.
Residents around the region are being warned about the ploy and urged to follow some simple steps to ensure they don’t fall victim to the same trick.
South Yorkshire Police’s advice to customers is:
  • Think before you open the door – don’t open it all the way before you’ve checked their identity
·         Fit a door chain or bar to wooden doors, special door chains are available for UPVC doors
·         Keep your front and back doors locked at all times, even when at home, to prevent ‘sneak in’ burglars
·         Identification does not guarantee the caller is genuine; ask to check it yourself and contact the company. Do not use the number printed on the card as it could be false, find one in your phone book or on the internet
·         Use a bank or building society to keep larger sums of money rather than hiding it in your home
Andy Foster, Project Officer from South Yorkshire Police said: “In the last 7 years distraction burglary offences have decreased by 70%. That’s fantastic news and shows the benefit of partnership working to raise awareness of these issues. However, the impact of this type of crime can be devastating and you should always be on your guard when someone calls at your door unexpectedly.
Our advice is simple - keep your doors locked and do not let strangers into your home unless you have verified their identity. If they are genuine they will not object and if you are not sure, don’t open the door.”
Wendy Berriman, Yorkshire Water Campaigns Assistant, said: “It’s really important that we offer support to our most vulnerable customers right across the region in whatever way we can.
“Campaigns like Keep Me Posted are one way of doing that, ensuring we are communicating with our customers in the way that they prefer. But it’s also important for us to help our customers stay safe by raising awareness of despicable crimes like these distraction burglaries.
“We’d like to advise any of our customers that might be concerned about falling victim to these ploys to register with our Password Scheme on 0800 138 78 78. It will allow you to set up a password which any genuine Yorkshire Water colleague will know when visiting you, so you can verify their identity.”
Meg Munn MP said: “My constituency of Sheffield Heeley has a large elderly population, who along with disabled people and those that lack access to the internet, often have the greatest need for paper statements and bills. I am delighted Yorkshire Water are supporting the Keep me Posted campaign so that my constituents will have the right to choose how to receive important information.”
And Judith Donovan CBE, who chairs the Keep Me Posted campaign, said, “We are delighted that Yorkshire Water has become the latest service provider to join the Keep Me Posted campaign.  In a drive for greater efficiency and cost cutting, some businesses have forgotten to take into account the communications needs of their vulnerable customers.
“We know from working with a diverse roster of 69 charities and concerned groups that many consumers are not ready to make this leap to digital communication. Even in instances where customers might be able to, they should still reserve the right to receive bills and statements in whatever fashion enables them to best manage their money. 
By adopting the Keep Me Posted pledge, Yorkshire Water has demonstrated its commitment to protecting the rights of their customers to choose how they are communicated with by the company. We hope that other providers across the UK will follow their example and pledge to protect consumers’ rights.”