It has been branded a “national scandal”. Bosses of privatised water companies in the UK have been criticised for receiving £58 million in pay and benefits over the past five years. Meanwhile customers have faced rate rises above inflation on their water bills.
Household bill rises
According to a National Audit Office report, water bills have risen by 40% above inflation since the industry was privatised in 1989.
Water UK, the trade body that represents water and sewerage companies revealed that average water bills will be £405 this year, a 2% increase from last year.
The public ownership debate
This follows many calls for bringing water companies back into public ownership.
Bosses have been labelled “fat cats” by the GMB union for earning “staggering sums”. Tim Roache, GMB’s general secretary has since launched a campaign to get the water industry back under public ownership.
“It’s a national scandal that over the last five years England’s hard-pressed water customers have been forced to splash out £58m through their bills to go into the pockets of just nine individuals.
“Privatisation of the water industry has been a costly mistake and these eye-watering sums are further proof the water industry must be returned to public hands.
“The GMB is urging people and politicians to Take Back the Tap and make our water services work for the many and not the few.”
Nine bosses of water companies were paid £11.3 million last year, with the average pay being £1,254,000 in 2017.
Liv Garfield, chief executive of Severn Trent was paid £2.45 million last year, a 50% increase since 2013. This makes her the UK’s top paid water company boss. This was in the form of a £674,000 salary, a £615,000 bonus, shares worth £975,000, pension contributions of £168,000 and benefits worth £18,000.
Severn Trent released a statement saying: “Our priority is to perform for our customers, and our performance on those measures that matter most to our customers, such as preventing sewer flooding, has been strong. Executive pay is based on a range of challenging performance targets and is in line with pay at companies of a similar size.”
Similarly, Steve Mogford, United Utilities chief executive was paid £2.3 million, an increase of 49% since 2013. United Utilities said: “The vast majority of Steve Mogford’s remuneration is linked to the delivery of stretching targets aimed at further improving customer service, operation delivery and environmental performance.”
They went on further to highlight that “In 2017, his total remuneration was approximately half the average for a FTSE 100 CEO.” However, that’s not likely to be any comfort to the average bill payer who has seen the price of water and energy steadily rise over the past few years.