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Financial risk of four water companies ‘another threat to rivers and seas’
Despite giving away millions in bonuses and dividends over the decades since privatisation, OFWAT’s annual financial health check has categorised four water companies as being at risk due to poor financial resilience.
Thames Water, Southern Water, SES Water, and South East Water, who together serve over 20 million people, have all had red flags raised against their performance. OFWAT has called on Thames Water to “deliver a turnaround in performance”.
The poor performance by these companies comes after Thames Water needed an emergency bailout of £500m earlier this year, while Southern Water received a cash injection of £905m in September 2021.
Both Thames and Southern are two of the worst performing companies when it comes to polluting our rivers and seas. Fish Legal have been given permission by the courts to bring a private prosecution against Southern Water accused of polluting the River Test in Hampshire.
According to research by the University of Greenwich, South East Water spent more on handing out dividend payments and servicing its debt in the last two years than it invested in infrastructure, spending £232m on dividends and debt but only £180m in improving and upgrading its infrastructure.
Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust, said:
“Decades of poor leadership, greed and lack of investment have brought us to this mess. Their poor financial health only adds to the appalling health of our rivers and seas thanks to their mismanagement.
“OFWAT are now considering water companies business plans for the coming five years. Those plans need to deliver a massive increase in investment to stop pollution, reduce abstraction, and protect our fish. Our environment cannot continue to pay for the poor performance of water companies. OFWAT and the government must make sure there are no more bonuses and dividends until our fish have clean rivers and seas in which they can thrive.”
The Angling Trust will continue to fight for our fish, fishing, and the environment. You can help by joining the Angling Trust and supporting our Anglers Against Pollution Campaign.