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Ban bonuses for water firm bosses until they fix leaky pipes, say Lib Dems | Water


Water company bosses should be banned from giving themselves bonuses until they fix their leaky pipes, the Liberal Democrats have demanded.

New figures uncovered by the party found that England’s water and sewage company bosses have awarded themselves about £27m in bonuses over the past two years.

Analysis of Companies House records by the party found that executives at England’s water and sewage companies were paid £48m in 2020 and 2021, including £27.6m in bonuses, benefits and incentives.

This is despite reports that they allow 2.4bn litres of water to be leaked in England every day.

A nationwide drought is likely to be announced this week in England after record dry conditions, with some places having their lowest rainfall on record.

Hosepipe bans have so far been imposed on millions of people, with government ministers asking water companies to put more in place.

Despite these dry conditions and more predicted in coming years due to the climate emergency, water companies have pledged only to halve leaks by 2050.

The Lib Dems believe a freeze on bonuses could focus minds and speed up this target.

Their rural affairs spokesperson, Tim Farron, said: “It is outrageous that whilst millions of people suffer from hosepipe bans, water company execs reward themselves with these bonuses despite not even bothering to fix leaks. It begs the question, what on earth have they done to deserve these bonuses?

“These are the very same execs who let their companies pump raw sewage into our rivers.

“Ministers are letting water firms get away with scandal after scandal and the public are sick of it. It is time someone stood up to these companies and demanded action. That should start with fixing these leaks, and then once and for all ending the sewage pumping into waterways.”

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Many water companies are missing their own leak reduction targets. Southern and South West Water both recently missed their targets, while South West Water’s leaks increased.

A Southern Water spokesperson said: “Tackling leakage is hugely important for our customers and for us. Leakage is coming down – and thanks to huge investments and changes to the way we tackle this, [we] have a target to reduce leakage by 15% by 2025, 40% by 2040 and 50% by 2050. Last year we fixed 22,000 leaks and are currently fixing 250 a week in the area where we have a hosepipe ban.”

South West Water has also been contacted for comment.

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