Making amends to our customers

We’re making amends for past failings in the management and reporting of compliance at our wastewater treatment works. Here’s how:

  • From 1 April 2020, we will reduce wastewater charges for existing customers and make payments to eligible former customers - totalling £123 million*.
  • We’ve committed to providing greater transparency on our environmental performance reporting.
  • As part of our transformation programme, we’ve made fundamental changes to the way we operate to make sure all of the issues have been addressed.

*In 2017-18 prices

What this means for you

To find out if you’re eligible for a discount or payment, please select your situation:

I will continue to pay wastewater charges after 1 April 2020

I'm an existing wastewater customer 

I paid wastewater charges between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2020, but will no longer pay from 1 April 2020

I'm a former wastewater customer


Why we're making amends

To find out more about why we're making amends, read the additional information below.

What happened

In January 2017, Ian McAulay met with Ofwat to discuss the issues we were facing, after the Environment Agency started an investigation into a small number of our wastewater treatment sites.

In June 2017, our regulator Ofwat started an investigation into possible breaches of licence conditions and our statutory reporting obligations relating to the management and operation of our wastewater treatment works.

We immediately started our own internal review and discovered a problem with sampling processes at some of our sites which meant that we needed to restate our wastewater performance for the period 2010–17. The findings of our own review have been shared with our regulators.

In October 2019, Ofwat’s investigation resulted in a notice to take enforcement action against us.

How we’re making amends

For our customers

In October, Ofwat issued us with a financial penalty of £3 million. In addition, we agreed to make significant customer bill rebates and payments to former customers, totalling £123 million*, in recognition of our failure to meet the expectations of our customers and wider stakeholders, as well as our regulators.

To our ways of working

These breaches occurred as a result of failures of people, processes and systems. We’ve acted promptly and decisively to make sure all of the issues identified in the investigation have been addressed:

  • Fundamental changes to the way we operate – Over the past two years these changes have included a full company restructure, a new executive team and a strengthened Board.
  • New ethical processes – We have also put new systems in place to safeguard our services, our whistle-blowing procedures have been enhanced, and a revised set of company values have now been embedded. We’ve also introduced a modern compliance framework, and you can follow the link to read our new Code of Ethics.
  • Greater transparency on our environmental performance – Information that is available on pollution incidents, flow and spill reporting, wastewater treatment works compliance, regional bathing water compliance results, emissions and river levels will be published on the company website (this is subject to any constraints on reporting environmental information or data that is provided to us by the Environment Agency). We’ll report this on our website from March 2020. Follow the link to find out more about our plans to provide greater transparency on our environmental performance.
  • Bonuses and incentives – If we fail to meet our relevant wastewater performance commitments, employees will not receive bonuses and incentive payments for personal objectives linked to wastewater compliance.

*In 2017–18 prices.

Chief Executive statement

Since June 2017, our wastewater treatment compliance has been under investigation by Ofwat due to breaches of our licence conditions and statutory obligations during the period from 2010 to 2017.

We have fully supported these investigations and completed our own internal review, which has highlighted failures of people, processes and systems during that time.

We are profoundly sorry for these failures and have been working very hard to understand past failings and implement the changes required to ensure we better deliver for our customers and meet the standards they deserve.

Ian McAulay
Chief Executive

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