Liberal Democrats: Ban water company bosses’ bonuses until sewage discharges end

A template press release on banning water company bosses' bonuses.

  • Water company bosses were awarded £27m in bonuses while pumping raw sewage into England’s waterways over 1,000 times a day
  • Lib Dems demand a “sewage bonus ban” to ban future bonuses until sewage dumps stop

England’s water company bosses have awarded themselves almost £27 million in bonuses over the past two years despite pumping out raw sewage into waterways 1,000 times a day, the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

Analysis of Companies House records by the Liberal Democrats shows that executives at England’s water and sewage companies were paid £48 million in 2020 and 2021, including £27.6 million in bonuses, benefits and incentives.

The eye-watering executive pay packets and company profits were made despite the Environment Agency reporting nearly 772,000 sewage dumping events taking place in 2020 and 2021 alone, or over 1,000 per day.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor [YOUR NAME] said: “Liberal Democrats want the Government to ban new bonuses for water company executives until sewage offences are brought to an end.

“In our area, [COMPANY] paid their executives [INSERT SUM IN RED] and made an operating profit of [INSERT OPERATING PROFIT] in the last financial year.”

The party is also calling on water company bosses to hand back last year’s bonuses and for the funds to be used to clean up rivers and lakes that have been polluted by sewage.

The Liberal Democrats have previously called for a Sewage Tax on the profits of water companies, to fund the cleaning up of  waterways polluted by sewage.  Analysis by the party suggests water companies made a staggering £2.7 billion in operating profits in 2020/21.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

“The Conservatives are allowing water companies to pump raw sewage into our precious rivers and lakes while awarding themselves obscene bonuses.  Just like the millions paid out to bankers during the financial crisis, the public will find this hard to stomach.

“Liberal Democrat plans for a sewage bonus ban would stop water company execs being paid a penny in bonuses more until our waterways are protected from sewage dumps. These bosses should be made to hand back the millions of pounds already received in bonuses to help clean up their mess.

“It’s time to send a message to the Conservatives that they cannot let water company bosses get away with pumping raw sewage into our rivers and beaches any longer. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats in May is a vote for a strong local champion who will stand up for their local community, clean rivers and countryside.”


Notes to Editors

View the article first reported by the BBC.

Liberal Democrat analysis of Companies House records reveals how much each water company paid out in executive remunerations in 2020/2021.

Executive remuneration includes base pay and bonuses for senior level executives in each water company as listed on Companies House records. 

Water Company Executive Remuneration Total - 2020 & 2021
Company Base pay Bonuses, benefits and incentives Pension Total exec remuneration per company
Anglian Water £1,688,887 £3,588,182 £211,892 £5,468,961
Northumbrian Water £1,465,000 £575,000 £174,000 £2,214,000
Severn Trent Water £2,337,100 £5,566,500 £528,400 £8,432,000
Southern Water £1,460,500 £1,719,500 £245,200 £3,425,200
South West Water £1,129,000 £2,804,000 £259,000 £4,192,000
Thames Water £2,332,000 £2,368,000 £262,000 £4,962,000
United Utilities £2,405,000 £5,990,000 £516,000 £8,911,000
Wessex Water £1,672,000 £775,000 £194,000 £2,641,000
Yorkshire £1,682,000 £3,298,000 £304,000 £5,284,000
Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water £1,268,000 £931,000 £433,000 £2,632,000
Total £17,419,487 £27,615,182 £3,127,492 £48,162,161


Companies house data on operating profits of water companies 2020/2021
Water company Area Name of company - Companies House Revenue (£m) Operating profit (£m)
Anglian Water East Anglian Water Services Limited 1,351.8 391.6
Northumbrian Water North East Northumbrian Water Limited 758.4 195.0
Severn Trent Water West and East Mids, Chester Severn Trent Water Limited 1,699.5 457.9
Southern Water South East Southern Water Services Ltd 819.8 138.8
South West Water South West  South West Water Limited 543.8 198.3
Thames Water Greater London, Thames Valley Thames Water Utilities Limited 2,106.7 488.8
United Utilities North West United Utilities Plc 1,808.0 602.1
Wessex Water South West Wessex Water Services Ltd 516.9 160.4
Yorkshire Water Yorkshire and Humber Yorkshire Water Services Ltd 1,101.1 241.4
    Total 10,706.0 2,874.3

N.B. Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water is a not-for-profit company and therefore not included in this analysis

Water Company Sewage Discharges 2020 & 2021
Company 2020 2021 Total
Anglian Water 17,385 21,351 38,736
Northumbrian Water 32,566 36,483 69,049
Severn Trent Water 60,982 59,684 120,666
Southern Water 19,782 19,077 38,859
South West Water 42,053 42,484 84,537
Thames Water 18,443 14,713 33,156
United Utilities 113,940 81,588 195,528
Wessex Water 28,964 23,524 52,488
Yorkshire 65,083 70,062 135,145
Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water 3,845 3,567 7,412
Total for all companies 403,043 368,966 772,009

N.B Figures for Dwr Cymru are for discharges into English Rivers only.