Labour to urge MPs to ban bonuses for water firm bosses over sewage dumping

Labour aims to embarrass the government by forcing Conservative MPs to vote on whether Ofwat should have the power to ban water bosses’ bonuses until they clean up waterways in England and Wales.

Water suppliers have been repeatedly criticised for paying out large sums to bosses who have presided over leaky infrastructure and sewage dumping. Senior executives from five of the 11 water companies that deal with sewage took bonuses this year, while the rest declined after public outrage.

Labour unveiled plans at its party conference to block the bonuses of those who run companies that pump out large levels of sewage if it wins the next election.

On Tuesday it will use an opposition day debate to table a motion that would extend Ofwat powers to punish offending companies.

The motion comes after a BBC investigation suggested United Utilities had been misreporting its pollution incidents as being less serious than they were in order to avoid having them counted in Ofwat’s figures. United Utilities – which operates in north-west England – has denied this.

The shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed, said: “This Conservative government has wilfully turned a blind eye to negligence at the heart of the water industry.

“Labour will strengthen regulation to make sure every single water outlet is monitored so we know the true extent of this sewage crisis.

“Water bosses who continue to oversee law-breaking on the scale now becoming apparent will face criminal charges, and we will give the water regulator powers to block payment of any bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their filth.”

The move is part of Labour’s wider plan to put the water industry under special measures, which includes mandatory monitoring of all sewage outlets.

The party also plans to introduce severe and automatic fines for illegal discharges and to hold water bosses to account for negligence.


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