Thames Water Accused Of Misleading Over Breakdown Of Bills


Thames Water has been accused of misleading its customers over claims that just a few pennies in every pound was going towards paying off the company’s debts.

The company, which is Britain’s largest supplier with 16 million customers across the south-east, has been under fire for its continual financial mismanagement and financial debts – all while continuing to pay hefty dividends to its shareholders.

Providing a breakdown of customer bills, Thames has said that 48p per pound went towards  infrastructure, while 20p is spent on water supply and treatment and just 3p to lenders.

However, critics argue that the company is downplaying the real impact of its £14 billion debt, and analysis by the Guardian suggests that, on average, almost 28 per cent of annual revenues were used to service debts between 2018 and 2023.

It’s important to remember that the bulk of Thames’s income stems from customer bills, which raises serious questions about the validity of the figures released by Thames Water.

It’s also worth noting that in the company’s annual report, where the 3p claim is mentioned, there‘s also a caveat that explains this was based on “net cashflows”, excluding new loans raised, repayments of borrowings and other financing costs.

Senior policy leader at the Consumer Council for Water Andy White said customers should be able to expect better from their suppliers: “Households have a right to expect clarity over how their money is being spent and transparency on bills is essential to rebuilding trust in the sector, which is the lowest it’s been for more than a decade.

“The next five years could see people facing some of the largest ever rises in water bills and companies need to demonstrate to their customers they are getting value for money.

“Regular and clear information is imperative but at present one in five customers feel the communication from their water company is poor.”

So it appears the company is being less than transparent with the figures, which will do little to ease the growing worries of customers of Thames Water.

More Hot Water

This isn’t the first time Thames Water has been accused of being dishonest to its customers. Late last year it was named as one of six suppliers that could face court proceedings for misleading regulators over sewage leaks.

At the time, it was reported that millions of water and sewerage bill payers may be entitled to payouts if their water company is found to have lied to regulators over their waste disposal.

The claims are being put forward by Professor Carolyn Roberts who’s an environmental and water consultant represented by Leigh Day Solicitors. If successful, the company says each applicant may be entitled to an average of £40, so with 16 million customers on Thames Water’s books, that could spell an eye-watering bill!

There has been an increased focus on suppliers recklessly pumping sewage into our waterways in recent years. But despite water companies promising less waste would be released, it appears the targets set by regulators have not been met.

Surfers Against Sewage, a charity that campaigns to highlight the damage these practices are doing to our rivers and seas, said in its 2023 annual report that record numbers of sewage releases took place.

Professor Roberts said: “It appears that because of the serial and serious under-reporting at the heart of these claims, water companies have been avoiding being penalised by [the regulator] Ofwat. I believe this has resulted in consumers being unfairly overcharged for sewage services.”

Comparing Water Suppliers

If you’re a business owner who also happens to be a customer of Thames Water then this news may cause some alarm. After all, you’ll want a supplier that you can trust to be transparent about your bills, so if it comes to light that your water company is attempting to mislead, you may see this as a red flag.

For households, sadly there’s not much you can do as your supplier is fixed. However, if you own a business, the UK’s free market rules mean it’s possible to change suppliers.

Here at SwiftSwitch, we believe news like this merely highlights the importance of being able to compare water suppliers to ensure your business is partnering with a trustworthy and reliable water company.

When it comes to finding a reputable water supplier, it’s clear that some perform better than others. In addition to transparency, customer service, not to mention price, may also be important for you as a business owner, and these factors should all be considered when you’re looking to switch water suppliers.

At SwiftSwitch we offer detailed information on many different suppliers including how they’re performing, so you’ll have all the info you require to make an informed choice.

Another benefit of using a broker like SwiftSwitch is we continually stay informed about all of the latest news and market developments, so if you’re keen to partner with a trusted company that’s providing a reliable service then we’re here to help.

So to find a reliable, transparent supplier for your business, speak to us today and we’ll endeavour to get you the best deal on your water.

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