South East Water: UK water firm under investigation by Ofwat as 'too many' customers 'failed too often'
Ofwat has launched an investigation into South East Water over its possible failures in maintaining supply to households
An investigation has been launched into South East Water as “too many customers” have been “failed too often” by the firm, the water regulator has announced. Ofwat said the water company is being investigated over its possible failures in maintaining the supply to households.
It added that the company is currently the worst performer for water supply interruptions in England and Wales. Over 2022 to 2023 there was an average of more than three hours lost per property, compared with its performance commitment level of about five minutes and 45 seconds.
Ofwat said it is looking at whether the supplier of homes in Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire has failed to develop and maintain an efficient water supply system. David Black, the chief executive of Ofwat, said “providing reliable water supplies is at the heart of a water company’s responsibilities” but “too many customers have been failed too often by South East Water.”
He added: “That’s why we are now carrying out a thorough investigation into the company and its service to customers. We are clear that water companies must do more to regain public trust and it must start with better service. Where this does not happen, we will use all of our powers to ensure the sector delivers better value for both customers and the environment.”
The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) said it is supporting Ofwat’s investigation because customers’ trust in the supplier has been “undermined by the company’s repeated poor handling of supply interruptions”. Chief executive Mike Keil said: “There was considerable anger and frustration among many people who felt unsupported, compounded by the company’s poor communication. Customers have a right to expect better from an essential service provider.”
In the lead-up to Christmas last year some South East Water customers went without water which led to complaints. A report by the CCW said that "the manner in which the company compensated customers led to a second wave". South East Water responded that it had seen the "accelerated impact of climate change" impacting day-to-day operations and that network improvements were "constantly underway".
NationalWorld has contacted South East Water for comment.