Thames Water is among 11 water companies that have been fined for missing their targets and told to give customers millions off their bills.
The 11 companies’ fines total around £150m with Thames Water receiving the biggest fine of £51m and they’ll have to return the money to customers in the form of lower bills in the 2023-24 financial year.
Other recipients of large penalties included Southern Water, Northumbrian Water and Yorkshire Water, which will cut bills by £28.3m, £20m and £15m.
In a statement, Ofwat said “Thames Water and Southern Water face a financial hit because of missed targets on water treatment works compliance, pollution incidents and internal sewer flooding across 2021/22 and will have to reduce customer bills accordingly.”
Warren Buckley, customer experience director at Thames Water, said: “Our aim is to always deliver brilliant customer service. It’s one of the biggest priorities of our plan to turn around our performance and our shareholders have recently approved an additional £2billion into the business so we can improve outcomes for customers, leakage and river health.
“Last year we saw a significant reduction in total complaints to the business following improvements to our customer service as well as a 39% reduction in supply interruptions in the last two years.
“We know we have more work to do to improve customer experiences across our services and we’re already accelerating the customer elements of our turnaround plan to improve our position. We can confirm that the financial penalties incurred will be refunded to customers as part of their normal bills and set out clearly on the bills. Adjustments to household bills will be announced next year.
“We’re determined to do better, and while we’re heading in the right direction, we know there is a long way to go.”
Some companies have fared better than others, with Severn Trent exceeding their targets in areas like biodiversity which means they’re able to raise customer bills.
David Black, Ofwat CEO, said: “When it comes to delivering for their customers, too many water companies are falling short, and we are requiring them to return around £150m to their customers.
“We expect companies to improve their performance every year; where they fail to do so, we will hold them to account.
“The poorest performers, Southern Water and Thames Water, will have to return almost £80m to their customers.
“All water companies need to earn back the trust of customers and the public and we will continue to challenge the sector to improve.”
This comes just weeks after investigations revealed that raw sewage was being illegally pumped into rivers and the sea around the UK.
Environment secretary Ranil Jayawardena said "The volume of sewage spewed out by water companies is completely unacceptable, and the public have rightly shown their outrage”
Full list of 11 companies that have been fined
- Affinity Water - £0.8m
- Anglian Water - £8.5m
- Dwr Cymru - £8m
- Hafren Dyfrdwy - £0.4m
- Northumbrian Water - £20.3m
- SES Water - £0.3m
- South East Water - £3.2m
- South West Water - £13.3m
- Southern Water - £28.3m
- Thames Water - £51m
- Yorkshire Water - £15.2m