Water firm behind litany of failures South East Water faces grilling at 'urgent meeting' with watchdog Ofwat over hosepipe ban

Firm has paid two of its bosses £1.7million combined over two yearsOfwat CEO said 'resilience of supplies is well below what would be expected'

The bosses of the water company responsible for the first hosepipe ban of summer have been summoned to an ‘urgent meeting’ with watchdogs.

Regulators at Ofwat wrote to South East Water after the restrictions, which came into effect for its customers in Kent and Sussex yesterday, followed a litany of other failures by the supplier.

Burst pipes from freeze-thaw hit 286,000 properties in December and the hot weather led to 6,000 properties having interruptions, low pressure or their supply cut off two weeks ago, with some schools closing.

The firm has paid two of its bosses £1.7million combined in pay and bonuses over two years.

Ofwat chief executive David Black said that ‘resilience of supplies is well below what would be expected’ and that he is concerned about a ban being brought in during the year’s first hot weather.

Ofwat chief executive David Black said that 'resilience of supplies is well below what would be expected' and that he is concerned about a ban being brought in during the year's first hot weather (Stock Image)

Ofwat chief executive David Black said that ‘resilience of supplies is well below what would be expected’ and that he is concerned about a ban being brought in during the year’s first hot weather (Stock Image)

Mr Black claimed South East Water is one of the sector’s worst performers and it needs ‘transformative change’.

His remarks came as it emerged South East Water’s chief executive David Hinton and chief financial officer Andrew Farmer gave themselves bonuses worth £422,838 in 2021/22.

Between them, they received £948,374 in pay plus bonuses in that period and £765,631 in the 12 months before that.

The company has admitted it lost 92 million litres a day on a three-year rolling average in 2021/22.

Five other water and sewage company bosses have given up their bonuses this year due to sewage discharges into rivers.

Analysis of Companies House records by the Liberal Democrats shows South East Water made £161.4million in operating profits since 2020.

The party yesterday tabled a parliamentary motion calling on water companies to give customers a discount if hosepipe restrictions are enforced.

Lib Dem environment spokesman Tim Farron said: ‘This is a complete farce. People are paying full price for a service they aren’t receiving. The Government needs to get a grip on profiteering firms.’

South East Water has been contacted for comment.

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