SOUTHERN Water bosses have been accused of being ‘fat cats’ after pocketing more than £6m bonuses in the last six years despite bills ‘spiralling and millions of gallons being wasted’.
A joint investigation into Southern Water’s company accounts by union GMB and Corporate Watch claimed bosses had ‘trousered more than £1m in 2018 alone’ which represented a ‘whopping 60 per cent increase from 2013’.
The union said the money paid out comes from salary, bonuses, pensions and other benefits in the last six years.
The GMB highlighted the findings at its congress in Brigton last week as part of its ‘Take Back The Tap’ campaign to bring England’s privatised water industry back into public ownership
While water bosses were paid ‘eye-watering sums’, the union, citing a report by the National Audit Office, said consumer water bills in England and Wales increased by 40 per cent above inflation since privatisation in 1989.
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘Thirty years on from Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation of water it’s clear this ideological experiment is a complete flop.
‘Customers are forking out millions to private water's top brass through their ever increasing bills, while billions of gallons are wasted every year and we get whacked by hosepipe bans in the summer.
‘I'm not sure how much more evidence is needed to show that this is just not working.
‘Water is a natural monopoly, that every home, family and individual needs, it should be in public hands not used for shareholder profit.’
However, after coming under fire, the industry body Water UK has hit back saying the accusations are ‘misleading’. The company says its chief executive was only appointed last year and is one of the lowest paid in the sector.
A spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘The GMB paints a very misleading picture of the water industry. The truth is that bills have fallen in real terms for the last five years and will continue to fall over the next five.
‘Leakage has been cut by a third since the mid-90s, and the water industry is just about to put another £50 billion of investment into the system. We’re delivering for customers and the environment, whereas plans for nationalisation would risk funding cuts and hit the pensions of more than four million public sector workers invested in the industry.’
Southern Water also said bonuses were tied to performance targets related to customer outcomes and environmental protection.