Southern Water bill rise of £230 every year for five years to pay for £7.8 billion business plan

Margate pumping station Photo Southern Water

Southern Water customers face a bill increase of £230 per year (44%) from 2025 until 2030 to help cover the cost of a £7.8billion investment in the service.

Wastewater only customers will see average bills increase by £85 per year (27%) between 2025 to 2030. Water only customers will see average bills increase by £145 per year (69%) between 2025 to 2030.

For those who pay monthly it means a rise by just under £9 per month from 2025 increasing to just over £19 per month by 2030 (costs before inflation). For wastewater only customers this will be just over £2 per month from 2025 increasing to just over £7 per month by 2030 (costs before inflation).

Southern Water says there has been significant new investment from shareholders of £1.6 billion since 2021, who have not received a dividend since 2017.

Southern Water

Yesterday (October 2) Southern Water released its proposed Business Plan for 2025-30.

The company said it will “deliver major improvements in water resilience, wastewater treatment, and customer service, as well as enhancement and protection of our precious environment.

“To deliver this major and ambitious plan, our customer bills will increase to pay for this future investment.”

A record £7.8 billion has been outlined to address the challenges. Southern Water says the plan will create an estimated 5,000 jobs across the region and represents around £3500 per household.

It adds: “The issues we are tackling are long term, so this Business Plan is the first major step in our longer-term strategy to 2050.

“This includes the single largest investment made to date of £3.3 billion in improving our environment, which will see us reduce our impact on rivers by cutting the amount of water we take from them, build new longer-term water sources, upgrade our largest water and wastewater treatment sites, boost water quality, reduce storm overflows, and support new housing developments.

Foreness pumping station Photo Rob Yates

“We face major challenges in our region that we need to plan for and manage in the longer-term, from increased consumption through an expected population growth of 3.2 % over the next 10 years, approximately 2.2 million more people, to the impact of climate change with more volatile weather and risks of drought. Collectively, we need to urgently reduce pollution and the amount of water we take from the environment.

“We understand the burden the rising cost-of-living is having on customers. We will mitigate the effects of bill increases by spreading the costs over a five-year period.  We are also extending our social tariff to support 50% more customers than we do currently so more customers can get up to 45% off their bills, increasing our hardship fund fourfold, and extending our Priority Services Register. “

Southern Water say key investment highlights include: 

£3.4 billion to be invested in water supply services. Including:

£320m to upgrade the four largest water supply works to improve resilience

Reducing the amount of water taken from the environment to supply as drinking water – by 50 million litres a day by 2030, a reduction of 10% from 2022.

The construction of water recycling plants and new pipelines to help deliver more than 189 million litres of extra water per day by 2035.

£4.1 billion in wastewater services. Including:

£682m to reduce  use of storm overflows by up to 20% by 2030 across 179 priority sites.

Reduce pollution incidents by 50% and eliminate serious pollution incidents by installing new mains and increasing power resilience at pumping stations

£600m to upgrade 38 wastewater treatment sites to remove harmful nutrients and improve the quality of water put back into the environment and help accommodate over 60,000 new homes by 2030.

£348 million to provide trusted and easy-to-use customer services through investing in a new customer relationship management and billing system

Southern Water is due to publish a detailed proposal on how it will tackle storm overflows in 179 priority bathing and shellfish sites across the region.

Lawrence Gosden Photo Southern Water

Lawrence Gosden, Southern Water’s CEO, said:  “Our proposed record £7.8bn investment over 2025-2030 aims to build on the foundations of our turnaround plan where we promised to deliver a short, sharp, ambitious performance improvement by 2025.

“The investment will ensure significant improvements to the environment in our region including improving water quality in 1,000km of river by upgrading our wastewater treatment works. It will also deliver major improvements in water resilience, in the way we treat wastewater, enhance customer service and increase the number of jobs in our region by an estimated 5,000.

“We know that our past performance has not lived up to our customers’ and our regulators’ expectations so whilst customer bills will increase, our customers will only pay for future investment, not our past underperformance. We will also mitigate the effects by spreading increases over the regulatory period and significantly increasing our support for vulnerable customers.

“This is right for our environment, communities, investors, and above all for our customers. We look forward to working with Ofwat on their draft determination of our plan next year.”

Photo Steven Collis

County Councillor and Save Our Seas Ramsgate member Karen Constantine said: “So Southern Water are planning to charge us more for our water. Well they did warm us this was precisely what they were planning to do.

“When I called a public meeting in 2021 with the then Chief Executive of Southern Water Ian McCauley, he was quite clear when he said, based on his experience of working in water companies around the world, he thought water in the UK was too cheap! If we wanted infrastructure improvements (and clean seas) we’d better be prepared to pay for it! At least he told us straight. But the good news ends there. How can Southern Water possibly justify these increases? Will they still pay their executives top dollar? Will they stop shareholders dividend’s – after all they don’t deserve them – not for one minute.

“The people of Ramsgate were promised testing kits so that we could test the local seas (that we use daily,) to check the cleanliness. This is a promise they appear to have broken. I’ll be back in touch with Lawrence Gosden, Southern Water’s CEO seeking clarity on this. Their communications team also seem to have forgotten the need to communicate with the local Save Our Seas group and others. That simply isn’t good enough. We must hold them to their word.

“It’s frankly insulting to be expected to pay higher bills while the company remains in private hands. If we’re going to have to pay more I’d at least like to see that money going into a public owned company. Let’s continue to apply pressure for this long overdue, popular and morally right change.”

Green councillor Mike Garner 

Thanet Green Party councillor Mike Garner said: “Residents across Thanet have known for years that Southern Water’s infrastructure is not fit for purpose, despite them previously claiming otherwise.

“We’ve seen multiple sewage releases into the sea over the last few years and on numerous occasions, we’ve had our fresh water supply cut off. As well as seriously impacting our coastal environment, each of these incidents has adversely affected our tourism industry and the businesses that rely on it being successful.

“While I welcome Southern Water, finally, outlining how they are going to start to put things right, it’s outrageous that they are going to charge us to pay for it by significantly increasing our bills when, as Feargal Sharkey and many others have highlighted this week, and OFWAT confirmed in 2021, they’ve already had the money from us to do this. Before putting our bills up, they need to tell us what they did with the money they already had from us. “


  1. This is a disgrace 😡 I read that the Australian banking group that controls Southern Water recorded an annual net profit of £2.8bn last year!! Perhaps they and the shareholders should stump up the money and not the long suffering public. You couldn’t make it up.

    • JJ you are so right! If the water companies had re-invested the profit they made from us customers, instead of paying dividends to shareholders, there would be no need making us pay again to replace Victorian sewage treatment works, and piping! They even borrowed to pay shareholders dividends, so we have to pay this back! Along with every other previously state owned industry, privatised in the name of M. Thatcher’s dogma, they have all failed! She wrecked the housing market with Right to Buy as well, Duuurh!

  2. Southern Water would like it’s customers to fund the large fine imposed on them that was imposed on them some few months ago.

    Corporate business at its best, not.

  3. It’s outrageous! What have we been paying our water bills for? Surely not all the money has gone in dividends to shareholders?
    How can they get away with this? How can the government let them do it?

    • At the last election we had a clear choice: (1) end water industry privatisation to stop the scandalous profiteering and pollution; (2) carry on as it is and charge customers more to protect shareholder profits and cover pollution fines. Unfortunately the wise people of Britain chose the second option, and here we are. Also, Starmer is a big fan of privatisation so there’s no hope of change at the next election so we’re just gonna have to suck it up and carry on paying more for less.

    • Ofwat are doing exactly what they are supposed to do- allow water companies to charge more if they promise to invest. The fact that water companies have underinvested, asset stripped, and paid 100s of billions in dividends since they were privatised in the 90s is irrelevant to Ofwat. The price we pay for water and therefore shareholder dividends will keep rising. It’s why British public services are such a cash cow for foreign investors, they know the companies will always be extremely profitable because the British public will keep paying. The Tories, and now Labour under Starmer, get millions in donations from private water companies, and CEOs are not giving that money to the Tories and Labour out of the kindness of their hearts. They’re doing it so the government protect them via toothless organisations like Ofwat, who are there to give the illusion that the British public are getting a fair deal.

  4. This is the result of continuous under-delivery since Thatcher’s insane privatisation. If they had invested steadily over the past 30 years it would have cost a lot less and we wouldn’t be swimming in sewage now. Renationalise them without compensation.

    • Really and which government since the privatisation has had a good track record of infrastructure delivery? The water companies have been regulated by the various governments since who’ve set out what should be done. The companies have to supply water and deal with waste from a population about 10% larger than officially recognised. Those,complaining about water quality today have no idea as to the state of our seas upto the late 70’s. Low bills have been prioritised over investment. What does the average household pay per head for its water /waste treatment? It’s really not a lot.
      Plus when the time comes the actual increases on people’s bills will be around 10% than the figures in the article as the watercompanies are allowed to transfer to losses from non payers onto those of us that do. And as prices rise no doubt more will choose not to pay.
      The regulators are the main problem, the companies as all do just played the game to make the most profit. Our bills would have been way higher and level of service likely no better had the companies remained in public ownership.

      • Prosthetic Conscience, your point about low bills being prioritised over investment completely ignores the billions and billions of pounds paid to shareholders. Maybe if the didn’t prioritise shareholder profit they could have invested and kept bills low.

        • Did i not cover that with “played the game to make the most profit” ? Dividends arejust where some of the profits go. In addition there have been questions raised over the debt some of the companies have been loaded with and the sources of said funding which seem to have funnelled pretax revenues ( in the form of interest payments) to parent companies.
          There are lots of things that could be done in life that would benefit us all, but human nature means that at every level there are those that choose to exploit every loophole and opportunity available to them and those who do solely as they wish and expect the rest of society to pick up the pieces.
          It ever was and will ever be.

  5. They don’t actually do anything themselves apart from have a few vans with ‘Southern Water’ on the sides that managers travel about in everything is contacted out – meter control and reading ‘Morrison Data Services’ and repairs/upgrades are done by ‘Clancy Docwra’ and then even sub-contracted to other companies.
    So basically they just count the money and dish it out to share holders – their entire attitude stinks right through the whole company, they have no control and no one has control over them – they will show Ofwat anything to justify these massive price increases and nothing will get better in the long run.

  6. Good old Thatcher

    Yet people still blindly vote tory making thanet a tory stronghold. People if thanet cant moan about this as you voted Thatcher and tory

    • Totally agree with you Mr Chance. Unfortunately there were enough people in Thanet that loved having sewage dumped directly into the sea so much that they voted to pay more for the regular and reliable service.

    • How many years were labour in the big seat since privatisation? And what did they do about the way the water companies were run?

      • About 12. And since privatisation, the tories have been in power for about twice as long. So they had twice the opportunity to get things sorted (even if they balked at complete renationalization). But no. Under the Tories watch, £Bs have been paid by customers to feather the nests of investors, whilst the water and sewerage infrastructure has been left to rot.

        • So the tories had the courage of their covictions and stuck to their principles ( right or wrong) where as labour did nothing and maintained the status quo.
          Has it never occurred to people that labours rather dismal performances reflect the wider electorates view of them? They’ll most likely get the keys to No.10 in the near future, spend lots of other peoples money making life “ fairer” for those who are deemed to need supporting , in the process they’ll alienate those that strive to succeed and who resent supporting too many who could be fending for themselves. They’ll get voted out ( another oddity in politics is that we vote out governments we don’t like rather than vote in one we do) and the pendulum will swing back.
          The next election ( basically the size of labours majority) is going to revolve around ,

          The gender debate
          Net zero and the real costs to the elctorate
          Migration. ( if they’re brave they’ll pledge to leave the ECHR)

          The tories are busy setting out their stall, no doubt labour will soon enough. The tories are being pretty clear in their current message, it’ll be interesting to see how labour respond.
          Of course neither will honour the rhetoric when push comes to shove.

          • Sorry, I’m a bit dim can tell me what the Tory ‘current message’ is? the one they are setting their stall with?

          • I think you’re on the wrong thread.
            This is about the water companies increasing the charge to customers, so that the infrastructure work that has already been paid for but hasn’t been done, can now be done, at no cost to the water companies.

          • Andrew, no i’m not, you started the politics tangent , i extended it.

            Mark my Words, all the drivel we’ve been hearing this week at their conference, they’ll seeing how each of the kites fly and conjure up a way forward from it.

  7. All utility companies ,should be re- nationalised at once .With no compensation to the share holders

  8. Southern Water was bought for £1Billion in 2021.
    They have 2.25 million customers. Less than £500 per customer. Let’s buy it back?

  9. Nobody honestly expected them to pay for their failures out of the bosses obscene wages & bonuses for failure did they? They pay for everything-including the fines for dumping crap in the sea when there was need to & just did it to save money, by sacking low paid staff & screwing the customer. The only way to punish them is stiff jail sentences.

  10. Everything that has been privatised by the UK government has been a failure with the customer picking up a bigger account. The general public also endorsed privatisation thinking that they would make a quick buck by buying shares and then selling them to the highest bidder once they thought they had made a profit. That little profit has been spent on paying higher bills.

    As I say privatisation has been a total failure

    • If you don’t eat crap & like it by not going in their self-polluted waters, then you will eat it when your bill arrives anyway. If you do decide to swim in them, then you will eat it twice.

      • I’ve been swimming in the sea at Ramsgate from June to the beginning of October for years. There have only been a few summer days when people have been unable to swim there because of sewage outflows.

        The basic utilities should certainly be re-nationalized.

  11. Maybe everybody should get together and refuse to pay the increase.I have seen this action taken in France and it worked.

    • For sure. We need to stop paying, but lots of people need to get on board and do it.
      How long do we put up with being so blatantly ripped off?
      All the while we cough up, they will continue raking in the profits.

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