United Utilities is set to award £181m in shareholder dividends on August 3 – the largest payout in a decade – despite widespread outrage at underinvestment in its network and loses of over 400m litres of water every day because of leaky pipes that has contributed to a hosepipe ban being slapped on 7m homes in north west England.
The firm, which insists a lack of rainfall is responsible for its shrinking reservoirs and says it delivers a “range of benefits and long-term values for customers, the environment and shareholders”, is the only water company in England and Wales to ban hosepipes.
However it was recently revealed that United Utilities loses 133 litres of water per property per day – just one litre less than the region’s average use of 132 litres per person per day.
United Utilities has the second worst record of all the UK water firms for leakage, even though boss Steve Mogford pocketed £2.3m in 2017.
Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton Jim McMahon said, “This isn’t just about water leaking out but money which should be used to maintain the water network leaking out as quickly.
“The first and last responsibility of the water company should be about maintaining the supply, and it has failed.”
Unite national officer for energy and utilities Peter McIntosh said the situation was “outrageous”.
“Our members at United Utilities are suffering because the company has failed to invest in the network and there isn’t enough staff to deal with the leaks.
“It’s outrageous that customers and staff are having to pay the price for United Utilities’ mistakes while its shareholders and directors continue to rake in obscene amounts of cash.”
He added, “The reservoir of corporate greed in the water industry needs to be drained as a matter of urgency and we believe that (the water regulator) Ofwat needs to be much tougher on this issue.
“Water is essential for the maintenance of life and should not be used as a pool for private profit. It was a misguided and flawed right-wing ideology that saw the water industry privatised under Margaret Thatcher.”
Source: Unite Trade Union / Ryan Fletcher / UU