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Ban water company bosses’ bonuses until sewage discharges end

April 19, 2022 8:42 AM

Ed Davey, photo taken by Richard Townsend (Richard Townshend, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)England's water company bosses have awarded themselves almost £27 million in bonuses over the past two years despite pumping out raw sewage into waterways 1,000 times a day, the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

Analysis of Companies House records by the Liberal Democrats shows that executives at England's water and sewage companies were paid £48 million in 2020 and 2021, including £27.6 million in bonuses, benefits and incentives.

The eye-watering executive pay packets and company profits were made despite the Environment Agency reporting nearly 772,000 sewage dumping events taking place in 2020 and 2021 alone, or over 1,000 per day.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to ban new bonuses for water company executives until sewage offences are brought to an end. The party is also calling on water company bosses to hand back last year's bonuses and for the funds to be used to clean up rivers and lakes that have been polluted by sewage.

United Utilities, who were responsible for the most spills over 2020 and 2021, paid bonuses of nearly £6 million. Severn Trent awarded their execs £5.5 million in bonuses while dumping sewage 120,000 times. Meanwhile, Yorkshire Water, who dumped sewage 135,000 times, handed out bonuses of £3.3 million.

The Liberal Democrats have previously called for a Sewage Tax on the profits of water companies, to fund the cleaning up of waterways polluted by sewage. Analysis by the party suggests water companies made a staggering £2.7 billion in operating profits in 2020/21.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

"The Conservatives are allowing water companies to pump raw sewage into our precious rivers and lakes while awarding themselves obscene bonuses. Just like the millions paid out to bankers during the financial crisis, the public will find this hard to stomach.

"Liberal Democrat plans for a sewage bonus ban would stop water company execs being paid a penny in bonuses more until our waterways are protected from sewage dumps. These bosses should be made to hand back the millions of pounds already received in bonuses to help clean up their mess.

"It's time to send a message to the Conservatives that they cannot let water company bosses get away with pumping raw sewage into our rivers and beaches any longer. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats in May is a vote for a strong local champion who will stand up for their local community, clean rivers and countryside."

Liberal Democrat analysis of Companies House records reveals how much each water company paid out in executive remunerations in 2020/2021.

Executive remuneration includes base pay and bonuses for senior level executives in each water company as listed on Companies House records.

Water Company Executive Remuneration Total - 2020 & 2021

Company

Base Pay

Bonuses, Benefits and Incentives

Pension

Total Exec Remuneration per Company

Anglian Water

£1,668,887

£3,588,182

£211,892

£5,468,961

Northumbrian Water

£1,465,000

£575,000

£174,000

£2,214,000

Severn Trent Water

£2,337,100

£5,566,500

£528,400

£8,432,000

Southern Water

£1,460,500

£1,719,500

£245,200

£3,425,200

South West Water

£1,129,000

£2,804,000

£259,000

£4,192,000

Thames Water

£2,332,000

£2,368,000

£262,000

£4,962,000

United Utilities

£2,405,000

£5,990,000

£516,000

£8,911,000

Wessex Water

£1,672,000

£775,000

£194,000

£2,641,000

Yorkshire

£1,682,000

£3,298,000

£304,000

£5,284,000

Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water

£1,268,000

£931,000

£433,000

£2,632,000

Total

£17,419,487

£27,615,182

£3,127,492

£48,162,161

Companies house data on operating profits of water companies 2020/2021

Water Company

Area

Name of company - Companies House

Revenue (£m)

Operating Profit (£m)

Anglian Water

East

Anglian Water Services Limited

1,351.8

391.6

Northumbrian Water

North East

Northumbrian Water Limited

758.4

195.0

Severn Trent Water

West & East Mids, Chester

Severn Trent Water Limited

1,699.5

457.9

Southern Water

South East

Southern Water Services Ltd

819.8

138.8

South West Water

South West

South West Water Limited

543.8

198.3

Thames Water

Greater London, Thames Valley

Thames Water Utilities Limited

2,106.7

488.8

United Utilities

North West

United Utilities Plc

1,808.0

602.1

Wessex Water

South West

Wessex Water Services Ltd

516.9

160.4

Yorkshire Water

Yorkshire and Humber

Yorkshire Water Services Ltd

1,101.1

241.4

Total

10,706.0

2,874.3

N.B. Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water is a not-for-profit company and therefore not included in this analysis

Data on sewage discharges from the Environment Agency

Water Company Sewage Discharges 2020 & 2021

Company

2020

2021

Total

Anglian Water

17,385

21,351

38,736

Northumbrian Water

32,566

36,483

69,049

Severn Trent Water

60,982

59,684

120,666

Southern Water

19,782

19,077

38,859

South West Water

42,053

42,484

84,537

Thames Water

18,443

14,713

33,156

United Utilities

113,940

81,588

195,528

Wessex Water

28,964

23,524

52,488

Yorkshire

65,083

70,062

135,145

Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water

3,845

3,567

7,412

Total for all companies

403,043

368,966

772,009

N.B Figures for Dwr Cymru are for discharges into English rivers only