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Crackdown on bonuses for water company bosses

Crackdown on bonuses for water company bosses
Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Water bosses are set to be banned from receiving bonuses if a company has committed serious criminal breaches.

The Government clampdown comes just weeks after it was announced that water bills will go up by an average of 6% from April to fund improvements to the water system.

Last year, 10 water bosses received bonuses, totalling £2.5m, but many of these head up firms that have damaged the environment.

The Government said the water regulator Ofwat will be taking forward a consultation to define the criteria for a ban. This could include successful prosecution for a Category 1 or 2 pollution incident – such as causing significant pollution at a bathing site or conservation area – or where a company has been found guilty of serious management failings.

The ban would apply to all executive board members and chief executives, and it would be expected to come into effect later this year, subject to consultation.

If taken forward, Ofwat would implement the measures by changing the conditions of water company licences. For water companies in England, this would be done using the powers given to the regulator through the Environment Act 2021.

The measures form part of the Government’s long-term strategy to tackle pollution, clean up British waters and ensure a plentiful supply for the future.

Steve Barclay, environment secretary, said: “No-one should profit from illegal behaviour and it’s time that water company bosses took responsibility for that.

“Tougher action is needed to address poor performance by water companies, which is why I am pleased Ofwat is going further today on bonus payments. In cases where companies have committed criminal breaches, there is no justification whatsoever for paying out bonuses. It needs to stop now.

“I will shortly be setting out more detail on further steps to clean up our waters, including reducing the reliance on water company self-monitoring in order to hold them to account and drive the improvements we all need to see.”

The policy would be expected to apply to bonuses for the financial year 2024/25 from April onwards.