Water firm United Utilities sees profit slump but finds £310m for dividend boost
The UK’s largest water company, United Utilities, saw pre-tax profits slump by 27.7 per cent this morning whilst announcing a boosted dividend payment of £310m to its shareholders.
The Washington-headquartered firm, which supplies much of the water to the north-west, said that profits had slumped as a result of inflation, which had impacted procurement costs for electricity and chemicals.
Revenue dipped 2 per cent to £1.82bn.
Louise Beardmore, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Despite a challenging year of cost pressures, we have delivered our best ever performance on a range of measures that matter most to customers, including leakage, water quality and serious pollution incidents.”
It comes as the sector faces heavy scrutiny over sewage dumping amid bumper dividend payments, with United Utilities one of the firms most heavily criticised.
In March, the water company faced a legal challenge in the Supreme Court, after claims from a Manchester-based shipping company that its sewage disposal practices were similar to acts of trespass or nuisance under British law.
In its announcement today, firm said it remained a “sector leader in reducing serious pollution incidents,” and that it saw a 39 per cent reduction in reported activations from storm overflows – which release water into rivers and seas when the sewage system becomes overwhelmed.
Beardmore said: “I understand and share concerns about the use of storm overflows and I am committed to respond to the challenges we face.”
“In October we will be putting forward an ambitious plan for the next regulatory period, including our biggest environmental programme yet, targeting a significant improvement in storm overflow performance. It is clear that we need to invest in infrastructure, assets and our people to meet new environmental targets and deliver the further performance improvements customers and communities want to see.”