Water Watchdog Challenges Industry on Extra Profits

AS water companies begin to publish their annual financial results United Utilities has announced that it has listened to its customers and to the industry watchdog, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), and will be making £200m worth of extra investment.

At a time when people are concerned about value for money, water bills have been rising and so have water company profits. CCWater has been challenging water companies to share unexpected profits made over the past three years with their customers as well as their shareholders.

Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We are very pleased that United Utilities is making this significant investment to enhance the service it provides to customers in the North West. We are expecting other water companies to follow their lead and will be continuing to push them to do so.

“Whilst profits are good because they allow investment, there needs to be a better balance between shareholders and customers, and customers want to know what their money is being spent on.”

Water companies have beaten Ofwat’s profit assumptions by around 30% in the last two years alone. Of this at least £600m is due to the benefits that companies get when inflation is high and interest rates are low. CCWater has been talking to water companies about using some of this money to improve their services for customers’ benefit.

Late last year CCWater praised Severn Trent Water as it announced that it had decided to bring forward £150m worth of investment in its water and sewerage networks. South Staffs Water and Affinity Water have agreed with CCWater to invest £0.5m and £1m respectively from merger savings in helping their customers.

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