It is quite extraordinary that less than a week after being chastised by the regulator for their failures, the water industry has decided to commit an act of industrial self-harm by announcing to millions of customers they’re going to raise their water bills.
People are already furiously angry, and what this illustrates to me is the level of complete incompetence in the industry itself.
We have already paid water companies to build, operate and maintain a functioning water and sewerage system – which shouldn’t be spending 7.5m hours dumping sewage into our rivers and beaches over the last three years.
The water companies confirm annually to Ofwat they have the money necessary to meet their legal obligations.
The question we need to ask is what happened to all the money? Where is it gone? Who’s got it – and when do we get a refund?
It’s time for the regulator to grow a spine and start behaving like a regulator to protect the customers from that kind of greed.
Ofwat now has an opportunity to make amends for 30 years of complete incompetence.
It should bounce these plans back to the water companies, and absolutely refuse them – because if anyone is going to pay for this, it should be water company shareholders, and certainly not the customers.
Environment secretary Therese Coffey holds the power this afternoon to demand suppliers reveal how much they have paid to their shareholders and the debt mountains they cannot afford to service.
If they fail to comply with that instruction, Coffey is allowed to fine them 10 per cent of their annual turnover.
I am sure that will sharpen a few boardroom minds on the job at hand and what they should be doing, rather than fleecing the customers even further.
Feargal Sharkey is a clean water campaigner and former lead singer of the Undertones.