Southern named the worst water firm in the UK for the fourth time in a row

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SOUTHERN Water has been branded the worst-performing water firm in England and Wales for the fourth year in a row by an industry watchdog.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) released the damning findings today which showed a surge in complaints against the company.

In the past year alone, Southern has seen a 10.3 per cent increase in complaints compared with 2014-15.

It received about 77 written complaints per 10,000 connections from customers – more than double the industry average of 33.7.

In contrast, Portsmouth Water was named as the nation’s leading firm, with an 18.9 per cent fall, receiving just 8.7 complaints per 10,000.

Tony Smith, chief executive of the CCWater, said the worst companies would need to report back by the end of October to say what they are doing to drive down complaints.

He added: ‘What is particularly alarming is the very substantial increase in complaints some companies have reported.

‘We can’t allow the good progress that has been made by the industry in recent years to be reversed.’

Southern director Simon Oates accepted there is ‘still much more’ for the firm to do ‘to come in line with the rest of the industry’.

He said: ‘We want to reassure our customers we remain fully committed to continuing the improvements we have already made, and bringing our performance up to the standard they quite rightly expect from us.’

Ten out of the 21 water companies across England and Wales saw an increase in written complaints in 2015-16.