Corporate Responsibility

Our supply community.

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How we buy products, and who we buy them from, can have a significant impact on the efficiency of our operations. Through our supply chain we seek to reduce our use of unsustainable resources, minimise waste and deliver efficient and effective operations, both today and in the future. Our aim is to develop a resilient supply community, where suppliers are treated fairly, and everyone operates with a shared set of goals, visions and values, to deliver real benefits to our customers and help us become a more sustainable business.

Last year our commercial team managed Thames Water’s annual spend of £1.75 billion at the same time as working hard to make our supply community a more efficient and mutually beneficial place to do business. We’ve invested in tools and technology to make transacting with us easier, and we’re transforming the way we communicate with our supply community.

Our supply chain digital platform includes a demand planning tool, spend analytics and an updated procurement methodology. Together with our supplier engagement plan, this allows us to:

  • Plan ahead with robust forecasting to enable a resilient supply chain and certainty of service delivery for customers.
  • Use data insights to make sure our contracts run smoothly, and deliver benefits for our customers and stakeholders.
  • Share our challenges and customer priorities to align our goals and develop initiatives together.
  • Engage with the supply market earlier to enable efficiencies and provide the best possible value for customers, keeping their bills affordable.

Finding the right partners.

We recognise we don’t have the answers to all our challenges, and that’s why it’s so important to attract and retain the best supply partners to help us. We look for those who share our core values, including our zero compromise approach to health and safety. We want to work with those who are interested in a long term strategic relationship, and those who can offer goods and/or services which best meet the needs of our business, while delivering great value for our customers. Our supply agreements are reached following a competitive, fair and transparent process.

We engage the services of Achilles Group Ltd to assess the health and safety capabilities of bidders and their subcontractors. It’s a requirement of our procurement process that bidders have undertaken an Achilles Verify health and safety audit, and have achieved and hold a minimum score of 80 per cent in each of the relevant desk based and site based (if appropriate) health and safety audits after the contract has been awarded. Throughout the lifetime of a framework agreement, we run monthly checks on the validity of any suppliers who are working on our sites to check that there are no audit failures and that they are all still current.

We also run a passport scheme as a visible means of confirming that everyone working for or on behalf of us have been provided with consistent information on risk, and understands the importance of working safely. As part of our zero compromise culture, all personnel working with or for us must hold the Thames Water Passport in order to work on our sites or assets.

As part of our sourcing process, we ask potential suppliers for information on their approach to environment and sustainability. We also ask for information on how they use subcontractors, and measures in place to effectively manage their supply chain.

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Our payment terms.

When setting up payment terms, we take into consideration the size and situation of our suppliers, particularly our small to medium-sized enterprises. Where possible, we try to remain flexible and consider each supplier on a case-by-case basis and when it’s justified, we’re able to reduce the payment terms.

In 2017/18 we paid £2.1 billion for goods and services received from our suppliers. Of these suppliers, we paid 90.9 per cent of all our invoices, totalling more than 140,000, in line with our agreed payment terms. Three years ago we increased our payment target to 90 per cent, and since then we’ve achieved it every year.

Honest and Ethical behaviour.

After we award a contract to a supplier, they’re obliged to meet the requirements of our Honest and Ethical Behaviour Policy. We remain fully committed to ensuring that there is no slavery or human trafficking in our supply chain, or in any part of our business. Our position on preventing modern slavery in our business is contained within our Honest and Ethical Behaviour Policy. It reflects our commitment to acting ethically and with integrity in all our business relationships, and to implementing and enforcing effective systems and controls to ensure slavery and human trafficking are not taking place anywhere within our business or supply chain. This and our Modern Slavery statement can be found here.