South East Water investors receive £2.3m payout despite Ofwat probe

Greg Clark has previously criticised South East Water

South East Water has revealed it paid out £2.3million in dividends to its investors. The Water Services Regulation Authority, Ofwat launched a probe into South East Water last month over its service to customers and record in maintaining a water supply, saying ‘too many customers have been failed too often’ by the firm.

The company argued that the sum awarded was down on the £4.5million paid a year earlier and less than Ofwat’s view of what was reasonable.

South East Water, which serves about 2.2 million households and businesses is currently the worst performer for water supply interruptions in England and Wales, according to Ofwat.

The Times has previously reported on South East Water’s supply issues in the summer and at the end of last year when thousands were left without water in the run-up to Christmas.

Around 3,000 people in and around Tunbridge Wells were affected by the water issues in December 2022 which saw many relying on bottled water and even using snow and rainwater to flush toilets.

The summer water interruptions, which led to a hosepipe ban, cost the company £3million, figures showed. The bill included £1.5million in compensation and £700,000 for providing bottled water to households and customers.

Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark exclusively told the Times yesterday: “This is exactly why I asked the water regulator to act, and I am pleased that they agreed to do so.

“In my discussions with David Black, the Chief Executive of Ofwat, he was clear that the regulator has the power to direct the necessary investment to be made by the company and to impose fines of up to 10% of its turnover, which would be £26million.

“Having obtained compensation for my constituents, the company’s shareholders now need to pay a punitive price.”

Mr Clark previously wrote a letter to Ofwat back in July stating that South East Water should receive ‘significantly higher fines’ and asked for no dividends to be paid out ‘until the required investment has been made.’

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