A hosepipe ban imposed on 7m households in north-west England has been described as “outrageous” after it was revealed the water company that ordered it loses more than 439m litres a day through leaks.
United Utilities, which according to the Consumer Council for Water has the second-worst record for losing water through leaking pipes, will implement the temporary ban from August 5.
Unite said the ban is a result of underinvestment in the network by the private company, which made £1.6bn in after tax profits over the last five years – with £1.2bn going in the pockets of shareholders.
Despite raking in massive amounts of cash, United Utilities is also proposing to close its defined benefit pension schemes, thereby greatly eroding employees’ retirement incomes.
Unite national officer for energy and utilities Peter McIntosh said, “The ban is a result of significant underinvestment in United Utilities network and equipment. There’s also a shortage of workers to carry out vital maintenance.
“It’s outrageous that United Utilities are taking their mistakes out on customers by imposing a hosepipe ban. They’d rather spend the money they make on obscene rewards for shareholders and directors.”
United Utilities loses 133 litres of water per property per day, much higher than the industry average of 121 litres, with only Thames Water losing more at 179 litres and Southern losing the least at 80 litres.
In fact, the amount of water lost through United Utilities leaking pipes is almost the same as the region’s average use of 132 litres per person per day.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the facts surrounding United Utilities’ hosepipe ban strengthened the case for ending privatised water.
Cartmail said, “The lack of investment and mismanagement at United Utilities, the costs of which are pushed onto customers and staff while leaving shareholders to continue raking in profits, are another reason why water should be brought back into public ownership.
“It makes absolutely no sense to have such an essential utility in the hands of firms whose first priority is to deliver a profit. Privatised water simply encourages fat cat bosses and shareholders to award themselves massive payments at the expense of everyone else.”