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Water company taps big profits

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Written by:
06/12/2006

A company which has increased water bills for millions of its customers has announced a 14% rise in profits.

United Utilities, a supplier of water to customers in the North West, said pre-tax profits for the first half of the financial year were £282m. The company, based in Warrington, had been allowed to raise its bills by 8.8% in exchange for investment in its supply network. The company stated on Tuesday that it was on track to meet its leakage target for the first time in four years.

But many consumer groups are far from happy with United Utilities and argue that water should be a cheap utility. The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) received 1,138 complaints about the company in the six months to 31 March – a 4.1% rise on the same period a year earlier.

Andrea Cook, chairman of CCWater North West, said: “Customers have seen above-inflation increases in their water and sewerage bills over recent years, whilst shareholders are receiving growing dividends. They understandably question whether the correct balance is being struck or whether shareholders benefit at their expense.”

She added that consumers would welcome cheaper utility bills.

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