“It’s just not cricket”

29th Jan 2018


I was brought up the old-fashioned way of the cricket pitch. You applauded your opponent into bat; congratulated them when they did well and said bad luck when they got out (all regardless of what you really felt because that was the spirit of cricket).

So today, “well played Water UK and the water industry” with the story about reducing plastic waste by encouraging people to drink tap water – wall-to-wall media coverage of those lovely, generous and consumer-friendly water companies.

Beneath my smile and polite applause I’m quietly fuming and if you work in the gas industry, so should you be.

Let me summarise what they are doing, for such positive media spin (Get the cricket reference?). They are promoting an App which tells consumers where they can fill up bottles of water, free to the drinker, reducing plastic bottle waste. All good news, as pleasing as a crisp cover-drive.

Now think about it. They are telling people where they can go to get free tap water (driving up demand for the product they supply and reducing the demand of their competitor product, bottled water). The host business will pay higher water bills, on metered premises, so the water companies are on a win-win strategy. Their only cost, promoting the App and spinning the news. I totally applaud them, it’s simply brilliant.

According to Ofgem, our industry’s umpire, so far in this price settlement, the gas networks have connected 52,361 fuel poor households to gas, usually free to the consumer, enabling them to heat their homes more affordably. For some, it’s a life-changer – improved physical and mental health, for kids a warm home to grow up in; for the elderly a welcoming place to prevent isolation; for families, money saved to spend on other necessities or even the odd treat.

I’m searching in vain for the media coverage. The Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme is simply the best-kept secret in the utility sector and that needs to change. If it makes you quietly fume, that’s good; if it makes you angry, even better. Let’s get on the pitch and show how good a team we are.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CE