Water companies likely to cut thousands of jobs after Ofwat pricing ruling

Just a handful of the UK’s 21 water companies have appealed against the regulator’s new price controls, meaning thousands of job cuts could be on the cards, according to the Times.

The deadline for firms to appeal against the Ofwat ruling – which limits the amount water companies can charge households and invest in network upgrades over the next five years – expired last night.

Among the companies thought to be considering cutting staff are United Utilities, one of the largest suppliers with 9,000 staff, South West water owner Pennon, Thames Water and Anglian. In total, the UK’s water companies employ 40,000 staff directly.

Only Bristol Water has publicly announced plans to appeal to regulator’s decision.

Richard Laikin, water specialist at Ernst & Young, said: “It’s inevitable that these companies are considering headcount reductions.

“Ofwat is effectively asking them to find 10% to 15% overall efficiency savings. Different companies will find different ways to achieve that, but clearly cutting headcount will play an important role.”

Ofwat’s final decision in November called for an average cut in household bills of 1% by 2015. The water companies had asked for an average increase of £31.

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