Water industry job cuts loom as Ofwat squeezes spending

Water consultants and contractors this week said they feared that they would have to cut jobs after the utility’s regulator, Ofwat, ordered water supply companies to rein in spending budgets and cut bills, New Civil Engineer magazine has reported.

The regulator last week imposed tough limits on how much water companies can charge, leading to an average annual domestic water bill falling £3 in real terms between 2010 and 2015. The water companies had asked for an average increase of £31.

Ofwat has also said that water companies’ capital spend over the five years must total £22bn − a 7% increase on the present review period and higher than any previous five-year period.

Paul Mullord, director of contractors’ and consultants’ representative body British Water, said high numbers of redundancies could cause irreversible damage. “Once that expertise is lost it’s very difficult to get back,” he said.

UK and Ireland water director at engineering consultancy Grontmij, Scott Aitken, agreed: “The consequences are being felt now. There are very limited opportunities for the industry to commence work with water companies. We are in danger of losing core skills and expertise in the industry.”

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