Southern Water customers will receive reduced bills for 2020-21, including a rebate ordered by regulator Ofwat following serious failures in the operation of its sewage treatment sites and for deliberately misreporting its performance during 2010-2017.
In the course of a large-scale investigation into the water company, Ofwat found that Southern Water failed to operate a number of wastewater treatments works properly, including not making the necessary investment which led to equipment failures and spills of wastewater into the environment.
A £126m penalty package included a rebate of £123m to customers through their bills and a fine of £3m.
It means the average combined bill for water and wastewater treatment services is set to fall by 11.2 per cent for 2020-21.
A typical combined bill for a domestic customer is expected to be £391 compared with an average charge of £440 last year – meaning a day’s services will cost £1.07 a day. . The cost is 13p a day or £49 a year less than last year.
The water element of bills is almost flat – the expected average is £159 compared with £156 in 2019-20. Wastewater bills will fall by an average £52 including the rebate of around £20 attributable to the company’s final settlement with Ofwat.
The drop in bills comes at the start of a sustained fall in combined bills. Between 2020 and 2025 bills will fall by 18.4 per cent (adjusted for inflation). By 2025 the average household bill for water and wastewater will be just £343 a year. Water bills will fall 8 per cent during that time while wastewater bills will fall 24 per cent.
Ian McAulay, Southern Water chief executive said: “Water is essential to every aspect of our lives but it is under increasing pressure from population growth and climate change. So, water companies have got to work even harder to face these challenges and keep it flowing far into the future whilst delivering the services our customers want and deserve.
“Our customers have said they want us to do more to protect the environment and increase biodiversity, that’s why over the next 5 years our ‘Water for Life’ business plan will invest £4 billion into our region, generating jobs and protecting the environment whilst ensuring we keep bills affordable and support those in need.”
Where your money goes
Southern Water’s bills cover the day-to-day running costs of supplying customers with drinking water and taking away and treating their wastewater.
Spending includes renewal and expansion of water mains and sewers, along with schemes to help prevent flooding, protect water supplies, reduce leakage, improve water quality, protect the environment and enhance wastewater treatment.
Key Investments include a new £27.5 million five year phase of the Bathing Water Enhancement Programme which has helped to raise 58 out of the region’s 83 bathing waters to the “Excellent” standard.
More details about tariff schemes can be found at https://www.southernwater.co.uk/account/help-paying-your-bill
Priority services register at https://www.southernwater.co.uk/account/extra-help-and-support
This is more evidence that capitalism – in this case, a private company selling water – is failing and needs to be replaced.