Southern Water ordered to make £28.3million reduction to bills by regulator Ofwat

Southern Water

Southern Water is one of 11 water companies which has been ordered to reduce customers’ bills because of missed targets on areas such as water supply interruptions, pollution incidents and internal sewer flooding.

Regulator Ofwat says across the 11 companies almost £150m is planned to be taken off customers’ bills in the next financial year.

Southern Water has to return some £28.3million to its customers.

The company’s pollution incidents have hot the headlines numerous times, including two incidents last year. The first was a release of wastewater from the emergency outfall at Foreness Point in June 2021 which affected ten isle beaches. Southern Water said the release was due to a lightning strike at the wastewater pumping station.

The second was a failure at the Broadstairs pumping station in October 2021 resulting in advice against bathing or entering the area below the high water mark at 14 of Thanet’s beaches following an unscreened wastewater release.

An Environment Agency investigation into the  Southern Water releases last year is being carried out with Margate councillor Rob Yates signed up as a formal witness for any proceedings.

In a statement Ofwat said: “Not all water companies have significantly missed their targets. Better performers such as Severn Trent Water have exceeded their targets in areas like biodiversity and are able to recover more money from customers, whereas poorer performing companies such as 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. These decisions will impact customer bills in 2023-24.”

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.”

Following a recent meeting of water industry CEOs, hosted by new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Ranil Jayawardena, Southern Water has detailed its improvement progress and plans to government.

Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Gosden, wrote to Mr Jayawardena to highlight the company’s commitment to delivering significant change in the coming years.

Mr Gosden’s letter outlines changes being carried out.

He says: “Whilst I recognise that Southern Water has not always met expectations in recent years, I believe that we are now in a position to deliver significant change for our customers and the environment.

“We are investing £2 billion (c.£1,000 per household) over the current regulatory period, 2020-25, more than our regulatory allowance, to significantly improve our performance.”

Measures include  pilot projects to reduce storm overflows, cutting leakage, currently 17%, this by half by 2050 and increasing the discount on social tariff for those struggling with rising costs to 45%.


  1. It’s nice to get a rebate but I maybe the only person who thinks this that we have paid for our water and waste service an apart from a few problems with leaking mains pipes we have had a pretty good service yes the beaches have been hit occasionally not good for tourists and locals either but as they have the money could it be better used to help speed up the improvement of the waste and rain water systems ie-: more storage for excess water and sewage to alleviate at the waste/sewage on the beaches in the Kent & East Sussex areas with both of the companies combining together to get the problem sorted out once and for all. The money would be on top of the money already pledged to this by each company, I believe that most people will not be agreeable to this or even Ofwat either.

  2. Refund to each house will be about £14 approx per house or slightly higher if Southern waters figures for housing is correct.

  3. Yup – I made it about fifteen quid for each dwelling! A total joke. Immediately, these companies should be stopped from paying any dividends to shareholders until they get their act together.

    In the medium term, they must be bought back into public ownership and these cowboys taken out of the equation.

  4. I agree that this industry should be brought back into public ownership.
    Privatisation was sold to us as the solution to under-investment. And that private companies are more efficient than public bodies.
    Both ideas have proved inaccurate. The service has deteriorated as not enough investment has been made in improvements by the different private companies. Though they all declared enormous profits and bonuses for senior staff. As if this indicated some kind of well-run success.

    But , if we return them to public ownership, can we do better this time? Have more customer and employee representation on leading bodies so things can’t get hidden? A fairer spread of incomes so that senior staff don’t just end up with a lifestyle that bears no resemblance to the lives of the customers?
    And a culture of proper response to public concern. So that customers’ worries are addressed, not just ignored.
    Without shareholders or private owners, we have a good chance to create a service that has just one aim ie. provision of a good service ,at a fair price, for fair wages. No shareholders creaming off excess profits at the expense of the users and workers.

  5. Water should never have been made a profit making industry.

    Profit isn’t a dirty word she said. Try telling the local sea waters that.

  6. The time given (better by 2050) is totally unacceptable to little to late, with the profit they have made for really bad services over the years this should be set and completed by 2030. No excuse

  7. As any refund will only be about£15 per household surely it would be better if the money were spent by Southern water on improvements.

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