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The Independent Challenge Group

The voice of all water users served by Affinity Water. 

Our Role

The Independent Challenge Group (ICG) acts as the voice of all water users served by Affinity Water. We'll advise, challenge and support Affinity Water in the development of their future plans to ensure they reflect your priorities. 

We understand

  • Many households are struggling with costs of living and higher overall bills; and​
  • People are worried about water shortages following recent trends towards increasingly drier and warmer weather

We know that customers want their water company to

  • Provide a reliable supply of clean water now and in the future​
  • Look after the environment​
  • Ensure bills are affordable for all alongside consistently excellent service​
  • Look to the future and develop innovations that benefit communities

Our members

The Independent Challenge Group (ICG) has 8 members, 6 who are independent experts in consumer and environmental representation, and 2 who represent regulators, the Consumer Council for Water and the Environment Agency.

Our chair

Caroline Warner, Independent Chair

Caroline Warner

Caroline Warner holds a well-established portfolio of Chair and Non-Executive Director roles in public service sectors. She has multi-sector professional experience at Board level, including in the NHS and utilities, and offers a specialist understanding of consumer advocacy, citizen insight, strategy & transformation planning. 
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During her executive career, Caroline worked at Board level for well-known consumer goods companies, including Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) and L’Oreal. She ran brand businesses including Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Drambuie, and L’Oreal Paris. In these roles, Caroline managed multi-national, multi-disciplinary teams across marketing; sales; retail; customer PR; Corporate PR; crisis & reputation management; finance & logistics.

A deep understanding of consumer preferences was vital to the success of Caroline’s brands for which she held multi-million £ P&L accountability. She has now translated this skill set to public service non-executive roles which focus on consumer advocacy.

Dr Ana Maria Millan

Dr Ana Maria Millan

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Jonathan Sellers

Jonathan Sellers

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Dr Ana Maria Millan

Dr Ana Maria Millan

Dr Ana Maria Millan is a Policy Manager at the Consumer Council for Water (CCW). She has worked in the water sector for over 20 years in academia, consultancy and in policy making. Ana’s main interests are demand management, climate change, the water environment and helping people to understand why saving water matters.

She also works with another company in the South East of England to represent water consumers through her work.

She's a Civil Engineer with an MSc and PhD in water resources management.

Jonathan Sellers

Jonathan Sellers

Jonathan Sellers is a water company Account Manager in the Environment Agency. Jon’s role is to provide an overview of environmental performance and planning matters for water companies in the South East and challenge companies to achieve better environmental outcomes.

Areas of particular interest include, Water Industry National Environment Programme, River Basin Management Planning, Water Resources Planning, water company Environmental Performance Assessment  water efficiency and the Price Review process. Jon is also a member of South East Water Customer Challenge Group.

Prior to the Agency Jon has worked as social investment manager in the health sector and ran his own environmental consultancy, specialising in fisheries and habitat management.

Dr. David Holden

Dr. David Holden

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Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith

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Dr. David Holden

Dr. David Holden

Dr. David Holden has worked in customer research and engagement for over 25 years, with a specialism in 'willingness-to-pay' studies, holding a PhD. in that area.

He has a strong appreciation of stakeholder research in regulated markets and previously sat on the Heathrow Consumer Challenge Board and Ofcom's Consumer Communication Panel. He currently sits on Electricity North West's Customer Engagement Group.

Areas of particular interest include customer journey, complaints handling and resolution, vulnerable customers, balancing competing stakeholder priorities, competition and economic regulation.

Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith is the Chief Executive of Transport Focus the independent statutory consumer watchdog for Britain’s rail passengers, users of the Strategic Road Network and bus, coach and tram passengers outside London.

Transport Focus uses its substantial evidence base to drive change for all transport users. Anthony qualified as a solicitor then worked for five years as principal consumer lawyer for the Consumers’ Association, publishers of Which? This was followed by a year as the legal consultant for Consumers International, a worldwide federation of consumer groups.

Prior to joining Transport Focus, Anthony was deputy and acting director of ICSTIS, the then regulator of premium rate telephone services.

Unette Spencer

Unette Spencer

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Bob Winnington

Bob Winnington

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Unette Spencer

Unette Spencer

Unette is Vice President, Customer Solutions for UK&I Division at Mastercard and plays a critical role in ensuring customers receive curated and relevant solutions to drive market differentiation, market share and revenue. Unette is a specialist in customer insight and loyalty consulting with over twenty five years’ experience gained at CACI, dunnhumby and Mastercard and has worked with international retailers in a territory spanning Europe, South America, and South Africa. She combines her retail, FMCG and loyalty expertise to drive solutions within the commercial value chain of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) & Retail industries leveraging the latest developments in FinTech, data insights and retail technologies. Unette has provided customer strategy expertise and consultancy, directly to the C-suite and senior management: sharing best customer centric practices across the business to drive loyalty and customer engagement through data led decision making.

Bob Winnington

Bob Winnington

Bob Winnington has 30 years' experience in the Banking Sector, including a diverse range of positions within Lending Control, Relationship Management, Area/Regional Management and Senior Service Management. He combines this with many years' experience as a Customer Service Strategy Consultant working across a range of sectors including over six years at the Institute of Customer Service as a National Account Director.

Bob joined the Money Advice Liaison Group in 2016 since which time he has led a transition of the not-for-profit membership organisation to develop an engaging, inclusive and diverse business with a strong focus on working together to support the lives of people in problem debt”. MALG is an agile organisation passionate about meeting and developing the needs of its members in a rapidly changing world. This has led to the establishment of a strong virtual presence alongside the provision of national and regional face to face events and meetings.

Bob is proud to be a member of the Affinity Water ICG and is keen to work with all those involved in the money advice and personal debt arena to collaborate on 'game changing' solutions that don't just meet the immediate needs of consumers today. This includes the increasing challenge of supporting vulnerable customers and addressing the long term eradication of problem debt through the proactive and meaningful use of inclusive technology.

Todd Holden

Todd Holden

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Todd Holden

Todd Holden

In a variety of local, regional and national roles Todd has spent 30 years helping companies and decision makers adopt innovative low carbon, energy efficient policies and solutions which have strong economic benefits. Working at CEO and Board level combined with his relevant academic background has given him a broad and deep understanding of the key social, political, scientific, and practical issues relating to the zero carbon agenda. Working in complex partnerships has developed strong interpersonal and communication skills, having worked in the private, third and most recently the public sector and regulated utilities, he is an accomplished public speaker with the ability to inspire and lead others.

The ICG Customer Promise to all current and future water users of Affinity Water

We want you to be able to rely on your water company and we will following these Key Lines of Enquiry during our challenge work.

  • Resilient

    Customers expect their water supply to be clean and reliable now and in the future

    Our Promise – We know that having a safe and reliable supply of water is fundamental to the good health of every individual and we will prioritise asking questions to ensure that everyone can maintain confidence in the security of this supply now and in the future.

    Our Goal – Customers have confidence that their water company is doing everything necessary to ensure a clean and reliable water supply now and in the future.

  • Resourceful

    Customers do not want water to be wasted by either the company or by consumers

    Our Promise - We will keep asking questions that encourage the company to put waste reduction at the heart of their plans, demonstrating that they are reducing leakage while supporting citizens to minimise water wastage at home.

    Our Goal – Customers understand and act upon the need to minimise water wastage at home and trust that the company is meeting targets to reduce leakage.

  • Protective

    Customers expect their water company to protect the environment

    Our Promise - We will uphold your expectation that the water company should play their part in looking after local rivers and streams so that future generations can continue to enjoy them. We also agree that your water company should behave in ways that are environmentally responsible as a business.

    Our Goal – Rivers and chalk streams all flow clearly, the river environments are healthy and biodiverse and meanwhile the company is set to achieve net carbon zero targets.

  • Innovative

    Customers expect public service companies to give back to the communities they serve

    Our Promise - We will celebrate and promote all aspects of innovation designed to improve the lives of the citizens the company serves.

    Our Goal – The company will initiate a series of partnerships that are innovative and creative and that add meaningful value to communities.

  • Affordable

    Customers need affordable bills, and some customers need financial assistance

    Our Promise - We will look carefully at bills and support options to ensure that charges are affordable for everyone and that there is help available for anyone who needs it whenever they need it.

    Our Goal – Water poverty is eliminated while bills are sufficient to fund future requirements for supply resilience and environmental protections.

  • Caring

    Customers who experience vulnerability need extra support from their water company

    Our Promise - We will travel alongside everyone who needs extra support and consider how the company can improve the enhanced range of services that some people might need additionally from their water company.

    Our Goal – Everyone who needs extra support from their water company either long term or temporarily can get it easily.

  • Inclusive

    Customers expect easy access to information and contact options

    Our Promise - We recognise that everyone has their own preferred way to communicate, and we will help ensure that all paths of access are open whether online, on phone or by mail, taking account of multi-language needs

    Our Goal – All customers can get in touch with their water company easily and quickly at any time in any language and without long hold times on the phone or long waits for a response.

  • Responsive

    Customers expect enquiries and complaints to be answered quickly and in full

    Our Promise - We understand that sometimes you might want to contact your water company with a query or complaint, and we will keep working with the company to ensure that you can do that quickly, easily, and pleasantly.

    Our Goal – Everyone who gets in touch with their water company will have a polite and friendly exchange along with timely and comprehensive responses to their query or complaint.

Document Library

Previous customer challenge group 2014-2022

Previous customer challenge group 2012-2014

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