Southern Water to cut dozens of jobs following £123million wastewater penalty

Southern Water is set to make dozens of redundancies as it deals with huge financial penalties from a water regulator.

The company was ordered to pay back £123million to its customers and former customers by water regulator Ofwat last year after it was found to have misreported data around the performance of its wastewater treatment works.

Dozens of employees are set to lose their jobs as the company, which has offices across Sussex, comes to terms with the penalty. The Herald understands around 54 jobs are at risk.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

A spokesman for Southern Water said: "Southern Water has undergone an enormous amount of change over the past three years and continues to change at pace as its new executive team seek to continually improve performance and meet the tough financial challenge set by our regulator Ofwat. This means that we need to look hard at the shape of our teams and ensure they are fit for the future to ensure we can deliver good services for our customers.

Southern Water's Worthing office. Pic: Google

"Staff who are impacted by these changes are being fully supported by the company.

"Over the next five years Southern Water is investing £3.2billion across the region which will create jobs and benefit the local environment as well as ensuring a resilient water and wastewater network for the future."

Southern Water's £123million of repayments to customers will be spread over five years, from 2020 to 2025.

Ofwat's investigation found the company had avoided paying underperformance penalties by misreporting data around its wastewater treatment, including taking 'deliberate measures' to stop samples being taken at its wastewater teatment facilities.

The redundancies come at a worrying time for employees and the world at large, with the Coronavirus pandemic already creating economic instability.

Responding to a request for comment a spokesman for trade union UNISON said it was 'very unfortunate' the company, in its attempt to reduce expenditure, was going down the route of making staff redundant.