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Private Water Top Brass Paid £175 Million

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Water bills have gone up 40% in real terms since the industry was privatised, now we know where that cash is going - the pockets of bosses, says GMB Union

Senior management in England's nine privatised water and sewerage companies were paid more than £175 million over the past five years, GMB analysis reveals. [See note 1 for breakdown by water company]

The top 54 execs trousered an enormous £40.3 million in 2017 alone.

In 2017 the water companies paid their executive directors and senior management an average of £746,296 per person.

The figures are a combination of salary, pension contributions, bonuses and other benefits.

The figures come from a joint investigation into the accounts by GMB and Corporate Watch [2] as part of GMB’s Take Back the Tap Campaign to bring England’s privatised water industry back into public ownership. 

Meanwhile, as millions face life under a hosepipe ban, GMB revealed 2.9 billion litres of water is wasted through leaks every single day. [3]

Last month, GMB figures showed the CEOs of the nine privatised water company trousered a whopping £58million in salary, bonuses, pensions and other benefits over the past five years. [4]

While shareholders pocketed these eye-watering sums, consumer water bills in England and Wales have increased by 40% above inflation since privatisation in 1989 according to a report by the National Audit Office [5]

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

 “This shows what many of us already knew - the top tier of private water is a money making machine for a privileged few. 

"Water bills have gone up 40% in real terms since the industry was privatised, now we know where that cash is going - the pockets of bosses. 

 “We all need water, it’s not an optional extra, it’s absurd that something we all depend on is in private, profit making hands instead of being run for the public good. 

“That’s why GMB is calling for the water industry to be brought back into public ownership.”


Contact: GMB Press office 07958 156846

Notes to Editors:

[1] Figures paid out for executive/senior management salary, bonuses, pensions and other benefits in millions, with average numbers of roles fitting in this category over last 5 years in brackets



Total payout (millions)

Average number of roles

Severn Trent Water                       



United Utilities                                 



Anglian Water                  



Northumbrian Water                    



South West Water                          



Southern Water              



Thames Water                                 



Wessex Water                                 



Yorkshire Water                              



Total = £175.4 million paid to senior executives through 54.1 senior job roles over last 5 years to the privatised water companies in England.

These are roles and remuneration packages listed in each company's annual reports. 




[5] National Audit Office report: The Economic Regulation of the Water Sector, page 9 (2015)     

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