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Corporate Social Responsibility – 2015/16

- All Group Health and Safety milestones met or exceeded

- Emphasis on Apprenticeships and employee development across the Group

- Increase in biodiversity activities at South Staffs Water

Employees

The Group considers the health, safety and wellbeing of its nearly 2,800 employees as central to our growth. We continue to invest in our people and aim to ensure that South Staffordshire Plc remains a safe and enjoyable Group to work for and to provide a good, inclusive, working environment for everyone.

- Health and Safety

The effective management of health, safety and wellbeing of our employees remains of paramount importance to the Group.

Each business takes responsibility for the health and safety of all of its employees. A Group level Health and Safety Strategy Forum, led by the Group Chief Executive and supported by the Head of Health and Safety, continues to oversee activities in this important area of the business.

Health and Safety monitoring and culture were two key themes that were reinforced during the year. These will be taken forward into 2016/17 by focusing on leadership, management reporting, workforce involvement, risk reduction and accident reduction.

Several initiatives were undertaken during the year:

- Management of Road Risks Committee established

- Accident / incident database has been live for a year and has standardised the recording and reporting of accident and incident data across the whole Group. During 2016/17, hazard reporting will be included

- A review of traffic management at the Group’s Green Lane head office

- Reinforcement of the Health and Safety competent advice resource across the Group

Effective leadership, commitment, worker engagement and a constant message have all helped return an excellent performance which saw all the 2015/16 Health and Safety milestones met or exceeded for the second year in succession. This is typified by the Group’s performance regarding the number of RIDDOR reportable accidents during the year. The result was 7 which is an improvement when compared to the previous year’s 8. The RIDDOR Incident Rate for 2015/16 finished at 2.59, an 11% improvement on the previous year’s rate (2.90) and the best year to date.

In order to maintain the momentum going forward, annual milestones have been set for 2016/17 at a minimum of 10% improvement on this year’s performance.

The majority of our businesses have external accreditation for their health, safety and environmental management systems. Many Group companies also hold ISO 9001 quality management and OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety management accreditations, and are part of the Safe Contractor schemes.

Employees have access to specialist occupational health advisors, who can provide proactive health surveillance and advice in order to keep our employees fit and healthy. Employee assistance programmes are also made available to employees across the Group, where employees can get free advice and counselling on any issues, whether work related or personal.

- Training and development

During the year the Group introduced an Executive Development Programme. Selection days were held for candidates and a number of Managers across the Group commenced the Programme that delivers modules of training, supported by Executive coaching, over a period of two years. In addition, the South Staffs Water Executive has spent time reviewing talent in the business and developing plans to manage future senior management succession. Latterly in the year the business has engaged with local colleges in Cambridge and Staffordshire to enable a structured programme of training and qualifications for Apprenticeships.

In addition to the development and roll out of an SSI Services Supervisors’ Development Programme in 2015/16, which is continuing in the current year, SSI Services also delivered its Non Stop Training developmental managerial and supervisory training programme to 160 employees during the year. Emphasis continues to be placed on Apprenticeships, with Apprentices in most of the SSI Services division’s businesses.

Echo continues to support development opportunities for employees by offering secondments across departments, on projects and in different sites, including seconding colleagues in India to the Walsall site to learn more about the Rapid software and then share that learning with the wider team in India. During the year, Echo also continued with the development of their internal online learning platform, with over 50 additional courses being added. This enables team members to select courses that they feel will benefit them both professionally and personally.

- Equality, fair treatment and human rights

All businesses are committed to a positive working environment, free from any discrimination or unfair treatment. Every reasonable effort is made to provide equal opportunities for employment, training and promotion, having regard to employees’ particular aptitudes and abilities and regardless of their gender, race, age or disability. If an employee becomes disabled, we endeavour to keep them in the workforce by making reasonable adjustments to their role, or looking for redeployment opportunities within the Group if necessary.

We have judged that human rights are not a material risk for the business due to existing regulatory requirements in the UK and the nature of our supply chain.

Environment

Wherever possible, the Group aims to have a positive effect on the environment, both through activities carried out and a policy of responsible sourcing.

South Staffs Water has installed a nesting raft to encourage common terns to nest and breed at the 1,313 acre Blithfield Reservoir Estate. With 1,076 acres designated as SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), the reservoir provides valuable habitat for wildlife, including many different bird species. The raft is situated in public view to help inspire and educate. Additionally, projects undertaken as part of South Staffs Water’s ongoing partnership with the Wildlife Trust include wildlife meadow planting and support for an environmentally friendly fun day.

SSI Services is developing a responsible sourcing policy, where particular consideration will be given to the sustainable procurement of goods and materials that may be utilised throughout the division. This includes the division’s fleet, where a new contract was secured for the provision of newly-launched Caddy and Transporter vehicles which feature BlueMotion Technology as standard.

Car sharing and video conferencing are encouraged by Echo to reduce their carbon emissions. During the year, Echo’s digital programme went live, with the aim of switching from paper billing to digital where possible, thus reducing the amount of paper and postage used. Echo also began a programme of delivering used newspapers to Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary (Northern Ireland’s only Equine Sanctuary) to be used for bedding for the animals in their care.

Communities

The Group’s charitable support programme focuses on giving something back to the community, both locally and further afield.

The Group made charitable donations of £238,000 during 2015/16. In addition, South Staffs Water continued its support for WaterAid, raising over £35,000 during the year. Activities supported by the South Staffs Water Employee Volunteer Scheme included restoration of a chalk stream at Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire, a day of painting and decorating with the Albion Foundation, and manning water efficiency stalls at community events to raise awareness and educate the public around the topic.

SSI Services currently supports numerous community initiatives by providing financial and practical support including, during the year, fundraising and donations to St Giles Hospice, via family fun days, sponsorship of local sporting teams including rugby, football and cricket, and financial support for staff associated with community fund raising activities.

SSI Services encourages its people to actively participate in their local communities by giving them work time to volunteer in projects of their choice. The division is keen to expand the activities currently carried out, with the support and guidance of their clients to promote and encourage opportunities in this area.

Echo raised money for several charities during the year, including the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan, Wear It Pink Day in support of Breast Cancer Awareness and donating over £700 worth of toys to the annual Family Christmas Appeal which is a joint initiative between The Salvation Army and St Vincent DePaul. Echo also supports two Northern Ireland-based animal charities; Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary and Mid- Antrim Animal Sanctuary.

Customers

Innovation, customer satisfaction, providing a quality service and building and developing relationships with our customers, whether household or business customers, are all key to the future success of the Group.

South Staffs Water has established a new Customer Panel – an independent and impartial board of customers, stakeholders and experts whose remit it is to provide a rigorous, customer-focused assessment and challenge of the business and its plans.

Several of our businesses have also implemented new quality management processes and customer satisfaction surveys to enable them to either understand areas for improvement or, in some cases, suggest improvements or changes, strengthening our relationship with them.

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