Water company bosses should have their bonuses banned for failing to fix leaks

  • Lib Dem analysis of Company House records finds staggering bonuses whilst local people suffer, Southern Water boss has bonus of £1,719, 500 
  • Sinkhole in Seaford cause by burst water pipe highlights failing infrastructure

Lewes Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to ban bonuses for Southern and South Eastern Water after revealing they paid their company executives eye-watering bonuses, despite failing to fix leaking pipes ahead of this summer's drought.

The Liberal Democrats have blamed Southern and South East Water for people in Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven and Polegate now facing weeks of hosepipe bans. 


James MacCleary has highlighted a local example, as a sinkhole in Seaford on Crouch Lane opened up following after a damaged water pipe. The sinkhole spread across the entire road, and nearby houses had their water supply turned off. This area is covered by South East Water.

Water company bosses from Southern Water were awarded £1,719,500, in bonuses despite companies leaking billions of litres of water every day. South East Water meanwhile received £645,823 in bonuses. Some water companies such as Thames Water lose up to a quarter of all their water from leaks alone. 

That money should be going into fixing their leaking pipes instead, said James MacCleary.

Water companies have only promised to halve leaks by 2050 despite predictions of a rise in summer droughts as record temperatures continue to be broken. 

England’s water company bosses have awarded themselves almost £27 million in bonuses over the past two years, despite reports they allow a staggering 2.4 billion litres of water to be leaked every day.

sinkhole.jpgLiberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes, James MacCleary, said: As the ground opened up in Seaford, rats came scurrying out, water flowed out, and the appalling state of our water infrastructure was incredibly apparent. This is wasteful and frankly not good enough. We have to invest in fixing it, to avoid big costs and repairs in the future.

“It is outrageous that whilst thousands of people in Sussex suffer from hosepipe bans, water company bosses reward themselves with these bonuses despite not even bothering to fix leaks. 

“The worst part is, ministers are just letting water firms get away with scandal after scandal and residents in our area are sick of it. These are the very same water companies which pollute our local rivers with disgusting sewage, harming animals and people swimming in them.

“It is time someone stood up to these companies and demanded action. That should start with fixing these leaks, and then once and for all ending the sewage pumping into waterways.”

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Liberal Democrats' analysis of company house records reveals how much each water company paid out in executive remunerations in 2020/2021. Executive remuneration includes base pay and bonuses for senior-level executives in each water company as listed on company house records. 

Water and Sewage Company Executive Remuneration Total - 2020 & 2021
Base Pay
Bonuses, Benefits and Incentives
Total Exec Remuneration per Company
Anglian Water
Northumbrian Water
Severn Trent Water
Southern Water
South West Water
Thames Water
United Utilities
Wessex Water
Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water

Note: South East Water, which covers part of Lewes constituency, is a water only company and does not deal with sewage. Southern Water operates the sewage network in South East Water's operating area. In 2020 and 2021, South East Water paid 2 execs base pay of £946,000, bonuses of £645,823 and pension payments of £121,822, totalling £1,714,005.

Companies house data on operating profits of water companies 2020/2021
Water Company
Name of company - Companies House
Revenue (£m)
Operating Profit (£m)
Anglian Water
Anglian Water Services Limited
Northumbrian Water
North East
Northumbrian Water Limited
Severn Trent Water
West & East Mids, Chester
Severn Trent Water Limited
Southern Water
South East
Southern Water Services Ltd
South West Water
South West
South West Water Limited
Thames Water
Greater London, Thames Valley
Thames Water Utilities Limited
United Utilities
North West
United Utilities Plc
Wessex Water
South West
Wessex Water Services Ltd
Yorkshire Water
Yorkshire and Humber
Yorkshire Water Services Ltd

Government must cancel October energy price rise to save families in Lewes £1,674.34

New Lib Dem proposal would pay for the shortfall in new energy bills

scrap_price_hike.jpgLiberal Democrat candidate for Lewes, James MacCleary has called on the Government to spare local people from soaring energy bills by cancelling October’s price cap increase, accusing Conservatives of “stalling in the face of a national emergency”.

The bold plan would save a typical household in Lewes District an extra £1,674.34 a year. The 70% increase in the energy price cap expected to be announced by Ofgem later this month would be cancelled, with the Government instead paying the shortfall to energy suppliers so that they can afford to supply customers at the current rates.

This would mean a total estimated saving for households in Lewes district of £69,148,446 off their electricity and gas bills.

The Liberal Democrats say the estimated £36 billion cost should be met by expanding the windfall tax on oil and gas company profits, and using the Government’s higher-than-expected VAT revenues as a result of soaring inflation.

The party is also calling for more targeted support for vulnerable and low income households. This would include doubling the Warm Homes Discount to £300 and extending it to all those on Universal Credit and Pension Credit, while investing in insulating fuel poor homes to bring prices down in the long term.

james_maccleary02_600.jpgLiberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lewes James MacCleary said: “People across Sussex are struggling to make ends meet and need a lifeline if they are to get through this frightening hike in energy bills.

“This Conservative Government is stalling in the face of a national emergency and, yet again, is simply not doing enough to put money back in the pockets of hard-working people.

“Maria Caulfield should be fighting for local people in Westminster ahead of a grim economic winter. Instead, she is too busy worrying about the impact the Conservative leadership contest will have on her ministerial career whilst people here suffer. It is time Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven, Polegate and the villages had an MP which put local people first.

“Countless families and pensioners across Sussex are already struggling, and they cannot wait for a new Conservative leader to act. We need urgent action now.”


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The price cap is currently £1,971 a year for a typical household. It went up by £693 (54%) in April. The new cap is expected to be around £3,400 – an increase of around £1,400 or 70%. Cancelling the rise would mean the energy bill for a typical household stays at £1,971 a year, instead of rising to around £3,400 in October.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for Ofgem not to increase the price cap. Instead, the Government would pay suppliers the shortfall of what they would have been charging if the cap had increased, so they can afford to continue supplying their customers.

We estimate that cancelling the rise would cost around £36 billion. This is based on Cornwall Insight’s latest forecasts for the new price cap, and the number of electricity and gas meters in Great Britain.

A proper Windfall Tax could raise around £20 billion to help keep people’s energy bills from rising in October. Fossil fuel giants have seen their profits soar: BP and Shell made £29 billion in profits in the first six months of the year alone.

The Government should also use the extra VAT revenues it is receiving as a result of inflation. It took in £11 billion more in VAT last fiscal year (2021-22) than it was expecting in March 2021, and is now expected to take in an extra £9 billion this year and £10 billion next year compared to last year’s forecasts. That’s a £30 billion VAT windfall that the Government should be using to help families and pensioners.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling for additional help to support the most vulnerable households. This includes:

- Reinstating the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift and making it permanent, giving 4.7 million households extra help to keep their heating on.
- Doubling the Warm Homes Discount and extending it to all those on Universal Credit and Pension Credit, to take £300 a year off the heating bills of around 7.5 million vulnerable and low income households.
- Doubling the Winter Fuel Allowance, giving up to £600 a year to 11.3 million elderly pensioners to help with their heating bills.
- An emergency home insulation programme to cut people’s energy bills, starting with homes in or at risk of fuel poverty.

High Court ruling sets precedent to say "no" to potential Eton New Town site

A High Court ruling on a Worthing site made recently sets a precedent to say "No" to the potential Eton New Town site in East Chiltington, a local councillor has said.

Worthing Borough Council has just won its High Court challenge against plans to build 475 houses in the Goring Gap. Mrs Justice Lang ruled that the inspector had not given enough weight to the impact such a large development would have on the setting of the South Downs National Park and the view within. She cited legal precedent that “great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty” and ruled that this had not happened in this case.

rob_banks_head_02.jpgLewes District Councillor Rob Banks (Lib Dem), who represents East Chiltington on Lewes District Council, said: "If the High Court was concerned enough about 475 houses and the impact it could have on the setting of the South Downs National Park and the view within then it sets a clear precedent that at least 3,250 right on the border of the National Park is utterly unacceptable. I and others have long argued that the impact on landscape is one of the key factors against the Eton New Town and this must be taken into account."

Barricade at Seaford Head unneighbourly and dangerous

Lib Dem councillors are joining residents in objecting to Seaford Head Academy’s proposal to erect a 2 metre high black security fence all around the site, including along the rear of residents’ gardens.

Height_of_proposed_fence.jpgCllr Christine Brett explains: “Cllr Carolyn Lambert and I visited the site at the request of residents and were horrified by the proposals. The height and scale of the boundary fence are completely unnecessary and will barricade residents into their homes causing a fire risk as their means of escape from the rear of their properties will be blocked. In addition, many of the houses in Cricketfield Road will only be a couple of metres from the fence which will tower over the properties, blocking the light.

"I am astonished that Seaford Head Academy is behaving in such an unneighbourly way and undertaking work of this scale which is out of all proportion to what is required. The environmental issues have also not been considered properly as there is a badger sett on the site which will be disrupted if the work goes ahead.”

Cllr Carolyn Lambert adds: “The school are apparently able to undertake this work as a result of a grant from the Department of Education. It is clear that no due diligence has been carried out by the Department of Education to see if these proposals are the best and most cost effective solution and the cost to the tax payer is unjustifiable in the current climate.

"Seaford Primary school replaced their boundary recently with a boarded fence which was not only in scale but sensitive to the environment and location. Clearly, the Academy Trust which runs Seaford Head has no concern for the local community. It is deeply disappointing that they have chosen to put in this application without consulting the community or considering alternative proposals”.

Lewes District Council has declared a cost of living emergency

Lewes District Council has declared a cost of living emergency.

The motion was proposed by Lib Dem Councillor Rob Banks (Plumpton, Streat, East Chiltington and St John Without), who described current price rises and inflation as a ‘perfect storm’ for local residents. 

The Leader of the Council, Lib Dem Councillor James MacCleary, will now write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask for a reduction in the rate of VAT for one year to 17.5% from 20% (saving the average family £600),  an immediate return of the £20 Universal Credit supplement and the reversal of cuts to Working Tax Credit.

rob_banks_ditchling_road_plumpton_600_head.jpgCouncillor Banks said: “This is without any doubt a perfect storm for so many of our residents in both food and fuel costs and I’m calling on the government to do much more to help. Lib Dem leader Ed Davey was correct to call for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies and we must put this funding to good use.

"We also need to do more to support residents clobbered by rising energy costs. For example, there is no price cap on the cost of domestic heating oil or LPG for those in rural areas, which in some cases have more than trebled. Of course, we also want to see a far greater use of alternative energy sources such as air source heat pumps to encourage people to move away from fossil fuels.

“The motion that my fellow councillors supported included calling for the price cap to be extended to cover those using heating oil and LPG  and for a range of measures that could avert severe hardship that is currently on course to hit millions of UK residents.”

Councillor Banks is also calling on the government to deliver an extension of free school meals, and a £25 billion fund across the country to enable the insulation of homes.

The council will host a Cost-of-Living Emergency Summit, with stakeholders, including Citizens Advice, foodbanks, chambers of commerce, trade unions and local MPs, all invited to play their part in developing a Food and Fuel Action Plan.

“We know that the most vulnerable in our society are going to be hit hardest by these eye watering increases in day-to-day costs, so there can be no delay, we must act decisively and act now.”

A link to the motion can be seen on page 27 from the July 18th meeting: https://democracy.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/documents/g3657/Public%20reports%20pack%2018th-Jul-2022%2018.00%20Lewes%20District%20Council%20Full%20Council.pdf?T=10

999 call to health minister as ambulance service goes into special measures

Lewes MP and Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, has been urged to take urgent action after it was revealed that the South East ambulance service has been put into special measures. James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat candidate for Lewes constituency, has called for emergency funding to get the service back on its feet.
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‘Time for Maria Caulfield to come clean over Johnson vote’ says MacCleary

James_Ringmer_shops_blur_crop.jpgLiberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes constituency, James MacCleary, has called on local MP and government minister, Maria Caulfield, to come clean with residents over how she voted in Monday’s vote of confidence in the leadership of Boris Johnson.

Many constituents have written to Ms Caulfield asking how she voted and she has so far refused to say. She is one of just seven government ministers who have not publicly stated their position, although it is widely assumed that she supported Johnson.

James MacCleary says: “Monday’s vote told us one thing for certain, that this is a lame duck government led by a deeply unpopular Prime Minister. What we do not know though is how our own MP, Maria Caulfield, voted.

“As a staunch Johnson loyalist and Brexit backer, Maria Caulfield has been a long-time cheerleader for Boris Johnson. Have the inconvenient facts of Partygate and his unpopularity made Maria Caulfield hide her true loyalties from constituents?

As with many other important issues, she seems to take one position in the House and another in the constituency. Her constituents deserve to know whether she still steadfastly supports Johnson, especially in light of his abject behaviour and his inability to lead our country with the integrity and seriousness we deserve.

“Her constituents deserve to know whether or not she voted to prop up Boris Johnson. We all assume she did, but she needs to come clean with residents. If she thinks Johnson merits her support, she should say so publicly and state why. If she thinks he should be removed, she should have the guts to say so. This weaving and dodging impresses nobody.”

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